Are you surprised? Another Alabama versus Clemson matchup is just around the corner, and if this game plays out anywhere close to how the last game did, then we’re all in for a special finish. This is the fourth year in a row that the two programs are playing in the playoffs, and the third time they are battling for the title. This is the 7th time that Alabama will be playing for the national championship in the past ten years. Can you say DYNASTY? We shall see! Here’s the case for a National Champion – Alabama vs Clemson.
If Crimson Tide want to win back-to-back championships, then it must slow down Clemson’s freshman sensation at quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, who hasn’t had a bad game since being named the starter. Lawrence was outstanding in the semifinal against Notre Dame going 27/38 with 327yards and three touchdowns. The Tigers have won their last 38 games when scoring first, so expect them to be looking to put those first points on the scoreboard Monday night. Lawrence is looking to become the first freshman quarterback to lead his team to the national title since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway pulled off the feat in 1985. On the other side of the ball, he’ll be squaring off against the preseason Heisman front-runner, Tua Tagovailoa. Tua ended up finishing 2nd in the awards final results to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray. Tagovailoa was the star of last year’s national championship game as he came off the bench at halftime to spark the comeback and ultimately throw the game-winning touchdown in overtime. The sophomore is a phenom who can make all of the throws asked of him, and do it at an incredibly efficient rate. Tua led Alabama’s offense to finish the year at second in the nation for points per game, and also second in the nation for total yards per game. This year’s Crimson Tide offense has been the most explosive offense in school history. They can go toe-to-toe with anyone. For Clemson to have any chance, Trevor Lawrence is going to have to keep up.
WHY CLEMSON CAN WIN
If you watched Clemson in their semifinal game against Notre Dame, there’s one thing that jumped off the screen more than anything else. It’s how much the Tigers were in the backfield. It seemed like everytime the Fighting Irish snapped the ball the Clemson D-line was there to create pressure instantly. They were unblockable. Even without All-American defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, Clemson couldn’t be stopped. Clemson’s defensive front has been regarded as the best in the country this entire season, and they’ll need to be at their best one more time. On the offensive side of the ball, Clemson is exceptionally balanced. Star running back Travis Ettiene must be productive to keep the Alabama defense honest and allow for passing windows to open up for Lawrence. If Ettiene can rush for 100+ yards, the Tigers should be in excellent shape. As good as Lawrence is, he’s still just a freshman. This is by far the biggest game of his career. If Ettiene can alleviate some of the pressure from Lawrence’s shoulders, Clemson will find themselves in position to win this game as it approaches its finish.
WHY ALABAMA CAN WIN
Do we even have to elaborate here? We’re going to anyways. Well, first and foremost, Nick Saban. Anytime you have the best coach in the world for a winner take all situation, you’re in good shape. No team is as well prepared for big games as the Crimson Tide are. Saban is the ultimate chess player and produces impeccable game plans time and time again. You know the Tide are going to come out ready to play. Then after the coach, you have arguably the best quarterback in college football in Tua Tagovailoa. Tua has been phenomenal all season long, and it’s been extremely tough for anyone to cover his stable of receivers. Wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs, and Devonta Smith are a matchup nightmare for anyone. The Tigers defense must get a hand on the Tide’s receivers early in their break or else it’s goodnight. If Alabama’s receivers can win at the line of scrimmage, this could get ugly quick.
WHAT WE THINK WILL HAPPEN
This game will have everything you could want from a college football championship matchup early on — energy, passion, pride, fear, nerves, adversity, and even drama. The first half will be a back and forth battle, as each team will be flying all over the field making plays. As the game settles down, Alabama’s offense will be too much for Clemson to handle. Clemson won’t be able to score enough points. The Crimson Tide are still so well balanced offensively that you can’t over commit to either pass or the rush defensively. That creates matchup nightmares for the defense across the board. If Clemson doesn’t load the box, Alabama will run the ball at will. If Clemson commits too many defenders to stopping the rush, Tua and his talented receiving core will pick apart the secondary. Alabama is indeed a pick your poison offensive juggernaut. Clemson won’t be able to score enough points to win this game. Your national champs will come from yet again, Alabama.
Line: Alabama -5
Prediction: Clemson 31-38 Alabama