Monday, January 7 at 8:00 PM ET
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Cloudy, a little rain
Winds from the SSE 8 mph
Gusts: 12 mph
The two best teams in college football clash when the Clemson Tigers play the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship game on January 7. This will be fourth straight year that these two teams meet.
Alabama has won the National Championship in two of the last three years, including their 40-35 win over Clemson in 2015. Clemson would then beat Alabama 35-31 in the 2016 National Championship game but Alabama got their revenge with a 24-6 victory in the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinals before taking care of Georgia in last year's National Championship game, 26-23 in overtime.
This year's meeting feels different because both teams are blowing out their opponents with the same regularity and NFL scouts are considering many of their players ahead of this year's draft. Clemson and Alabama are not mirror images of each because their head coaches have diverse approaches but it's no surprise that they're facing each other once again.
Alabama opened as less than a touchdown favorite over Clemson at Jazz Sportsbook and I believe that's about right, even with Alabama being the better team ahead of the game. Clemson has a vastly superior defense than Oklahoma and their offense is not all that far behind, this is a team that poses different matchup issues with their wide receivers and has a pretty good offensive line.
Clemson has the playmakers, the running game and the offensive and defensive lines to go toe-to-toe with Alabama. Tua Tagovailoa certainly has the edge in experience and overall play at quarterback but Trevor Lawrence has proven he's ready for this stage after a remarkable freshman season.
The health of both teams will be interesting to monitor, not just Tua Tagovailoa's ankle but a few of the Alabama defenders too, particularly linebacker Christian Miller. Alabama might not be able to move the ball with the same ease as in the semifinal against Oklahoma but I do see them having plenty of options to spread things around, pound the ball between the tackles and establish a physical ground game.
Both teams will likely feel each other out early in the game and take a few shots deep in the first half and I see Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney being more aggressive after halftime. My initial lean is an Alabama victory by a touchdown but I'll keep doing research throughout the week, waiting for more information on the status of Christian Miller and studying the line movements before posting another article with betting trends and my college football pick.
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/2RMxhhA