2019 National Championship Picks – Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Jan/07/2019

The College Football Playoff format worked to perfection this season with the two best teams in the country left to decide the National Championship on the Levi’s Stadium turf.


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The matchup between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide is getting old, as the two programs meet for the third time in the title game and for the fourth time in the playoff setting. But until someone else gets in there and knocks one of these powerhouses off, this could become a more regular occurrence than it already is.

Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Date and Time: Monday, January 7, 2019, 5 p.m. ET

Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Opening CFB Odds: Alabama -7, O/U 62.5

Clemson vs. Alabama TV Coverage: ESPN

Odds Analysis

This is the first game all season that one team will play as an underdog. And since they are playing each other and Alabama is the defending champ that makes them the favorite. The line opened at Tide -7 but showing just how close the teams are in terms of talent and overall destruction of opponents, the spread was wagered to Bama -5.5.

Not much separates these teams. They both move the ball quickly and efficiently on offense and they are equally adept at stopping opponents. Bama is the second-highest scoring team in the FBS with 47.7 points per game while Clemson is No. 4 at 44.3 points per outing. The Tigers own the top scoring defense giving up 12.9 points while the Tide is fifth at 16.2.

There were two common opponents during the regular season with Clemson and Bama easily dispatching Louisville. The Tigers slapped the Cards 77-16 while the Tide rolled to a 51-14 victory. The other was Texas AM. Clemson had a tougher time against the SEC foe, escaping with a narrow 28-26 victory in Week 2 while Bama cruised to a 45-23 win in Week 4.

Matchup to Watch

The quarterback battle between Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa will get all the headlines and will certainly be a determining factor in this one. But a critical matchup will be Alabama’s pass catchers going against Clemson’s secondary.

There isn’t a lot to criticize on Clemson’s defense, and if they have a weakness it would be their pass defense. Over the course of the season the Tigers ranked 16th against the pass allowing just 182 yards per game. But there were two games where the pass defense looked shaky and those were two of the closer games all season. In their win over Texas AM, the Tigers allowed Kellen Mond to throw for 430 yards on 23 of 40 passing. He also tossed three touchdown passes.

South Carolina’s Jake Bentley went off against the Tigers near the end of the season with 510 yards through the air and five scoring tosses. Clemson clamped down against Notre Dame, holding Ian Book to just 160 yards on 34 pass attempts, but the Bama aerial attack is something much different. Tua threw for 3,353 yards averaging 11.4 yards per attempt with 37 touchdowns and five different receivers had at least five touchdown catches.

Player to Watch

Lawrence hasn’t played in a close game all season and hasn’t had the freshman moment that so many first year players experience. He may never have it since this is the end of his initial season. Lawrence didn’t play against AM with Kelly Bryant the starter at the time and he didn’t finish the Syracuse game after being knocked out with an injury. I doubt the stage is going to be too big for him, but the ability of Travis Etienne to extend the defense and force the Tide to play the run is important for the Tigers.

And Etienne has vowed to have a better performance than he did at last year’s Sugar Bowl loss to the Tide when he ran for just 22 yards, the second-lowest total in his brief career. He wasn’t the featured back last season yet he totaled 766 yards and 7.2 per carry. He’s been the workhorse this year with eight 100-yard games, including 109 yards on 14 carries against Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.

Betting Clemson vs. Alabama at BookMaker.eu

It doesn’t get any better than having the best teams settle the score on the field. One will take its first loss of the season while the other will hoist the crystal egg, and it should be as close as the previous two matchups to decide the title. There is a bias in favor of Alabama since most of the so-called experts consider the SEC stronger than the ACC. But the reality is that Clemson is a powerhouse that rivals Bama in every way. We should see plenty of offense, but it will be a defensive stand from the Tigers that enables them to pull off the upset.

College Football ATS Betting Pick: Clemson +5.5 at BookMaker.eu

College Football Score Prediction: Clemson 38, Alabama 35

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