Clemson vs Alabama College Football National Championship Prediction, 1-9-2017
Clemson Tigers (13-1 SU, 7-7 ATS) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0 SU, 10-4 ATS)
National Championship Prediction by Nathan Powers of Precision Picks
Kick Off: 8pm EST Monday January 9th, 2017
The Line: Alabama -7, 51
College Football National Championship Game Preview
The 2016 National Championship was an exciting game by all accounts with Alabama beating Clemson 45-40. Alabama was favored by -6 at the time of kickoff and Clemson covered the spread making Tigers backers money. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson played one of the best games of his career and will square off against an Alabama defense that is the best in the country. Will the Tide roll again or will the Tigers emerge victorious and redeem their loss last season?
The Tigers should have a ton of confidence heading into their rematch with Alabama after Clemson steamrolled Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, 31-0. Deshaun Watson threw 2 interceptions in the game but he ability to extend plays with his legs makes him a very dangerous quarterback. Watson accounted for 3 touchdowns (1 pass, 2 rush) in the Fiesta Bowl and helped his team reach the title game in back-to-back seasons.
Clemson held the Buckeyes to 88 yards rushing but they may be facing their “biggest” challenge yet. Alabama tailback Bo Scarbrough (6’2″, 230lbs) was a beast in the Crimson Tide’s win over Washington in the Peach Bowl. Scarbrough rushed for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 19 attempts. At times we questioned Alabama’s play calling when they went away from feeding Scarbrough but keeping him fresh may have been their ultimate goal. The Tigers were solid vs the run all season allowing just 123 YPG which ranked them 19th in the country but no back in the nation runs like Scarbrough.
Offensive Advantage: Lean Clemson Tigers
It could be crazy to go against Scarbrough and true freshman QB Jalen Hurts but the Tigers have more experience with Watson under center and perhaps one of the best receivers in the game, Mike Williams (1267 yard, 10 TD’s) and a RB that compliments both players, Wayne Gallman. Both teams scored close to 40 PPG but the experience at these positions gives the Tigers an edge in pressure situations.
Defensive Advantage: Alabama Crimson Tide
The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide have won 16 national championships in their illustrious history including 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2015. The Crimson Tide have rolled through another undefeated regular season and captured the SEC Championship with a 54-16 romp of Florida. Last weekend, Alabama leaned on their top-rated defense during their defeat of Washington in the Chick Fil-A Peach Bowl. The Crimson Tide limited the Huskies to 194 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers on the afternoon. Alabama has proved in all 14 games this season that they have the undisputed #1 defense in college football. If there is one area where the Tide have a clear edge defensively.
Punt Return Advantage: Push
It’s a big hit to not have Eddie Jackson returning punts for the Tide. Ray-Ray McCloud has been good for Clemson but the Tide counter with Treon Diggs who has similar stats to McCloud.
Kick Return Advantage: Clemson Tigers
Artavis Scott has returned 20 kicks for a combined 458 yards averaging 22.9 yards. Trevon Diggs has been the man lately for the Tide but throughout the season it was by committee. Scott has the edge in experience but both players are explosive.
Punting Advantage: Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama punter JK Scott has 54 punt attempts for a combined 2562 yards averaging over 47 yards per punt. He’s a great weapon to help the Tide flip the field.
X-Factor Advantage: Alabama Crimson Tide
If you’re not familiar with the Alabama defensive front then here is a quick snapshot: Jonathan Allen is awesome! Allen anchors the best defensive front in college football and any offensive line that has faced the Tide’s defense has found out the hard way. The pressure this unit can put on an offensive line and quarterback is unmatched.
Clemson Tigers vs Alabama Crimson Tide Prediction
We should see another outstanding National Championship game played on Monday. This is a tough matchup to handicap the spread but in the end I am taking the +7 points and expect another close game. I think that Nick Saban and the Tide will win again but last the Tigers will not be overwhelmed due to their experience last year. Take the points and enjoy the game.
Clemson vs Alabama College Football National Championship Prediction: Clemson Tigers +7
Nathan Powers is (58-29, +2753) with his college football picks against the spread this season