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 the nation 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 battle.
Here we go again
Alabama has won the National Championship in two of the last three years, including a 40-35 victory over Clemson in 2015. Clemson then beat Alabama 35-31 in the 2016 National Championship game but Alabama got payback with a 24-6 win in the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinals before overcoming Georgia in last year's National Championship game, 26-23 in overtime.
This year's meeting feels different because both teams are beating their opponents with ease and NFL scouts are considering many of their players ahead of this year's draft. Clemson and Alabama are not mirror images of each other because their head coaches have different approaches to football but it's no surprise that they're facing each other once again.
Betting odds keep changing
Alabama opened as less than a touchdown favorite over Clemson at Jazz Sports 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 playmakers, a solid running game and the offensive and defensive lines to cause trouble to Alabama. Tua Tagovailoa certainly has a significant edge in experience and overall play at quarterback but Trevor Lawrence has proven he's ready for this stage after a remarkable freshman season, but we'll go over him later.
The health of both teams will be an interesting aspect to monitor, not just Tua Tagovailoa's ankle but also linebacker Christian Miller's hamstring for Alabama. As for Clemson, starting defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and reserves Zach Giella and Braden Galloway will likely miss this game after a failed drug test ahead of the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame.
College Football Trends:
The Clemson Tigers are:
8-1 ATS in their last nine bowl games
6-1 ATS in their last seven games following a straight up win of more than 20 points
13-3 ATS in their last 16 neutral site games
7-2 ATS in their last nine games following a straight up win
7-2 ATS in their last nine games overall
The Alabama Crimson Tide are:
1-5 ATS in their last six games in January
The biggest question ahead of this game will be whether Christian Miller plays or not. According to Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Miller is still "questionable" for Monday. Miller didn't do much on Tuesday but he progressed through Wednesday and Thursday.
The uncertainty around Miller's status and the play of Trevor Lawrence make me lean towards Clemson to cover. Lawrence's completion percentage is 65.3 after going 27-for-39 for 327 yards and three touchdowns in the 30-3 win in the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame on December 29. Lawrence was named the starter on September 24 and he has 2,933 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions in 14 games this season.
College Football Pick: Clemson +6 (-120) at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/2RMxhhA