As they say all too often, it all comes down to this. Clemson and Alabama put on defensive showcases to bust through to the College Football Playoff National Championship, setting up a rematch of last year's thriller. Alabama now has a chance to defend its throne as a -6.5 favorite but everyone is rushing to support the Clemson Tigers. Our experts break down the biggest college game of the year below!
#3 Clemson Tigers (13-1) vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Monday, January 9th --- Raymond James Stadium --- 8pm EST
CFP National Championship Betting Line: Alabama -6.5 (51.5)
Alabama has been one of the best bets in college football all season long. They've gone 10-4 ATS and 14-0 SU since the season began. They've crushed every team they've faced all season with the exception of a 10-0 win at LSU and a 48-43 win at Ole Miss. They won every other game by 18 points or more.
I don't care what Clemson's trends say. I'm riding with the Tide and there's no stopping me!
I wrote a much longer piece on this (which you can and should read here!), but this game comes down to consistency. The Crimson Tide have plowed through this season undaunted, routinely suppressing the top competition out there. Clemson peaked last week against Ohio State, but have failed to show that kind of play on a weekly basis. I'm betting on the Tigers experience shell shock as they run straight into an Alabama team that won't give them the inches that Ohio State seemed more than happy to concede.
Everybody is going ga-ga over Clemson's defense because the Tigers shut out Ohio State's offense. I'm not. To me, Clemson got lucky by having to face a team that shouldn't have even been in the CFP. Penn State beat Ohio State. They took down Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. They almost pulled off the win over USC in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State wasn't even the best team in the Big Ten, much less the third best team in the nation. Clemson does have a fantastic QB in Deshaun Watson. But Deshaun is going to have to play the game of his life to beat Alabama's defense. I don't think it's possible. More importantly, with Steve Sarkisian now calling the plays in Alabama, it's almost a given that the Alabama offense is going to find holes in the Clemson defense that the Buckeyes couldn't. I like Alabama big.
What happens when an NFL-caliber defense plays a bunch of children? As my colleague in the office puts it: "You don't bet on children if you're an adult. Grow up!" Notwithstanding his undiplomatic approach, I think I will heed his advice. I'm going to have to go with the defending champions and take the Alabama Crimson Tide (-6.5). I'm riding with the better, more experienced defense. I'm riding with the better, more experienced coach. And I'm trusting that the Tide can keep that potent Clemson offense in check. Deshaun Watson is undoubtedly the superior quarterback and perhaps even the best player on the field and he wants and deserves this one. Unfortunately there are very few moral victories in sports and none in wagering. History repeats. The Tide rolls in.