#2 Clemson Tigers (+6) vs #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-6) — O/U 58.5
- Monday January 7th, Santa Clara, CA (Levi’s Stadium): 8:00 PM EST on ESPN
- Hunter Refrow has to be like 40 by now. He is the Aaron Craft of College Football. This will be his 4th game against Alabama, I bet Nick Saban hates this guys guts because he just seems to only make big plays against him. Renfrow is guaranteed to be on the Patriots this year.
- Let’s talk about where this game is being played in Santa Clara. The game isn’t sold out yet, the field is going to be shitty after two other bowl games were played at this stadium, but the weather should hold up. Looking like mid to low 50’s with little wind issues.
- A lot is being made of this being the 4th time these two teams are meeting, coaching wise I’ll give that advantage to Clemson? Why? Both coordinators for Clemson have been there for all four games. Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables is the most important guy, he hasn’t coached against Tua but he has coached against Jalen Hurts and will be ready for him if he gets in this game. I trust Venables more than his counterpart on Alabama, Tosh Lupoi. Offensively, both co-offensive coordinators for Clemson have been in that position for all these games while Michael Locksley for Alabama is under is first year and is leaving for Marylands HC job next season.
- Defensively these are two of the best in the CFB. Clemson is the #1 ranked S&P+ team while Alabama is ranked at #12. Clemson is the #1 and #4 rushing and passing defense respectively, Alabama is ranked # and #5 in both those categories.
- Clemsons rush defense is one of the best we’ve ever seen in CFB. They average giving up just 2.4 yards per rush and 90.8 yards per game. I would expect Alabama to come out and pass the ball early and often even without Dexter Lawerence.
- Alabama could exploit a exploit a Clemson pass defense that hasn’t faced a real good passing threat offense all year. Clemson pass defense did show some vulnerability against two other SEC teams in Texas A&M and South Carolina. Alabama probably looked a lot at that South Carolina film to see what the gamecocks did to put up 35 points on Clemson.
- Tua is going to have a long day against Clemson. He got beat up in the Georgia game and this Clemson defense is better than Georgia’s. Tua is going to get hit this game, it’s going to be up to Tua making good decisions, and offensive coordinator Michael Locksley to put Tua in situation that are going to limit his hits.
- I said this in my Alabama/Oklahoma preview, Alabama has four legitimated receiving threats that could go off during any game.
- This game will be decided by Clemsons defensive line. If they can get constant pressure on Tua and stuff the run, Clemson will win this game.
- Looking at Alabama’s defense agaisnt Clemsons offensive, I don’t care that Trevor Lawerence is a freshman – I think Clemson will be able to score 20+ relatively easily during this game.
- Trevor Lawerence has started almost as many games as Tua has, and Tua came into the National Championship game with far less experience. This moment is not too big for Lawerence, I like him to have a big game here.
- Alabama’s defensive line will have its hands full with the #1 rushing offense in the country too. Clemson averages 6.7 yards per rush, #1 in the country, and 256.8 rushing yards per game which is #10 in the country. Travis Etienne has been a beast for Clemson all year, he’ll be the main guy Alabama needs to stop.
- Alabama has never really shut down these mobile QBs in big games. Trevor Lawerence doesn’t run as much as you’d think, but he is savy in the pocket and can move around to extend the play. I think he’ll be running more in this game to help Clemson extend drives and convert 3rd downs.
- I trust Tua more in this game to not make a crucial turnover. Tua turned the ball over only 4 times all year while Trevor Lawerence had 8 during the year.
- Both kickers on each team suck.
- Some betting stats for you here: Alabama is 1-5 ATS in their last six January games, Clemson is 8-1 ATS in the their last 9 bowl games, Alabama is 2-3 ATS in their last five while Clemson is 3-2 ATS. Clemson is 6-8 in over/unders while Alabama is is 8-5-1 in over/unders.
- I like Clemson and their defense in this game. Clemsons defense will make more plays and get constant pressure on Tua and force him into a few mistakes. Trevor Lawerence is a freshman only in name and I think he’ll handle the pressure well. I do think this is a lower scoring game than the previous two national championship meetings. I actually like Clemson to win this game outright (+170) and I’ll take the under.
- 58% on Alabama & 60% on the Over.