When: Monday, January 9th
Where: Tampa, FL
Alabama and Clemson ran away from their respective opponents in last Saturday’s semifinal games. What did we learn?:
– Both defenses are capable of shutting down even the best offenses
– Alabama can really run the ball
– Clemson’s defensive self-scouting is top-notch
– Special teams is a bright spot for both squads
One interesting headline that could affect the outcome is that Alabama OC Lane Kiffin is leaving before the championship game. Last year he exploited the injury-ridden Clemson secondary with deft play-calling, and it proved the difference in the game. Steve Sarkisian is taking over the offense, but it is a question mark for what should be a close game.
How will they win?:
Clemson will have to stretch the field vertically with deep threats and horizontally with screens and perimeter runs in order to avoid Alabama’s seemingly impenetrable middle. Deshaun Watson had a solid game last year with a few miscues; this year he will need an even better game to get the win.
Alabama must contend with a Tigers’ defense that held Ohio State scoreless, though — and this says a lot — the Crimson Tide’s downhill running game is a big step up. They also need to complete high percentage passes to keep the defense honest; Jalen Hurts’ 57 yards against Washington was enough to cruise through the semifinal, but his team will likely need to keep pace with a hot Clemson team.Can he improve his performance and become just the second true freshman in NCAA history to lead his team to a national title?
Last year was a down-to-wire affair decided by one score. This year should be no different. Clemson may be slightly weaker on paper, but their drive for revenge and their experience from last year should aid them in their quest for their first National Championship since 1981. I’ll got out on a limb and pick the underdog.