MetroBet previews the college football national championship game set for Monday night.
Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (-5.5)
Moneyline: Tigers +180, Crimson Tide -220
Betting Total: 58.5 points
Time (Eastern), TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
For the third time in the last four years, the Clemson Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide will square off in college football’s National Championship game. The match is being held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Though the prospect of witnessing another Alabama-Clemson tilt seems dull at first glance, these teams are plenty exciting when they take the field.
“I think that this is clearly the two best teams in Alabama and Clemson, and it’s going to be an exciting game,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney told reporters in the run-up to the title game clash. “I think both teams are kind of mirror images of each other to be honest with you. Really good defenses, dynamic quarterbacks, very talented running backs, and explosive skill, and just kind of built in the trenches. So it’s going to come down to just execution and mentally being sharp and making those two or three plays that you don’t know when they’re coming.”
Swinney seemed to hit the nail on the head when it comes to similar nature of these two programs. Both the Tigers and the Tide are led by brilliant quarterbacks in Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa. Lawrence surrenders seasoning as a freshman who didn’t truly take over the starting job until a month into the season, but the stats speak for themselves (65 percent completion rate, 8.0 yards per attempt, 24-4 TD-INT ratio). Meanwhile, many had pegged Tagovailoa (67.7 percent completion rate, 11.4 yards per attempt, 37-4 TD-INT ratio) as a deserving Heisman Trophy winner, though he ultimately finished second to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.
Tagovailoa may have a slight advantage in that matchup, but Alabama’s Damien Harris and Najee Harris combo out of the backfield is overshadowed by Clemson’s Travis Etienne. He rushed for 1,463 yards alone this year, 13 more than the Harrises combined. His regular season mark of 21 TDs was among the highest in the nation.
Another shared similarity between these two programs is their tenacious defenses. The Tigers were second in the country at 12.9 points per game allowed and suffocated Notre Dame 30-3 en route to this championship game appearance. The Tide was seventh at 16.2 points per game allowed. However, in yards per play allowed, Clemson was significantly better than Alabama, ranking first (4.0) while the Tide was 15th (4.7).
This game could simply be a matter of who has the ball last, as these offenses are too dynamic for even the most talented stoppers to rein in entirely. But with Etienne as the ‘X factor’ in the backfield and a defense that’s just a bit sturdier, the Tigers appear to have the upper hand. Grab the points with the Tigers.
Prediction: Clemson wins, 34-31
The play: Clemson +5.5