The bowl season is a wrap. All that is left is the national championship game between #1 Alabama and #2 Clemson. They are meeting for what feels like the 17th straight year, but is technically the 4th straight year in the Playoff. Two times they have met for the national championship with each winning once. Then Alabama beat them last year in the semifinal on the way to another national championship. This season has felt like a season of inevitability. Very rarely does the top 2 preseason favorites actually make it all the way through the season as the top 2 teams. Clemson looked vulnerable a couple of times, but then they made their quarterback change and it has been domination since. Alabama has steamrolled through the season with a little bit of a scare against Georgia in the SEC championship game.
We can compare the two teams and see they are about as even as can be. Alabama has arguably the best college football coach of all time at the helm of their juggernaut program. Everyone knows who Nick Saban is at this point and his resume. Love him or hate him, you can't deny his greatness. Clemson has Dabo Swinney who pulverized the term "Clemson-ing" years ago and is now a program that is stocked with NFL talent and reloads year after year. Clemson has a probably 1st round NFL defensive tackle suspended and so far they haven't missed a beat. I guess you give the edge to Saban for his all time greatness, but these are the top 2 coaches in the game today.
Both of these teams have great defenses. By the old school measures Clemson is #2 in total defense, Alabama #13. Scoring defense Clemson is #1, Alabama #5. Rushing defense Clemson is #1, Alabama #19. Passing defense Clemson is #16, Alabama #22. You look at that and think that the way to beat them is through the air. As with everything, it needs to be put in context. Clemson and Alabama are almost always out to huge leads in their games, so teams are constantly passing to try to come back. If you look at various defensive efficiency metrics, they are both in the top 3. But if you are splitting hairs, Clemson probably has a slightly better defense this year.
For offense, Alabama has really taken a different approach to what we have ingrained in our heads that they do on offense. Gone are the days of the game manager quarterback with the bruising back. They now have the Heisman runner-up quarterback leading the offense and they sling it all over the field. The Tide are averaging nearly 48 points per game and 528 yards of offense. Clemson is no slouch either. They average 44 points per game and 530 yards of offense. Pretty even again. But the edge has to go to Alabama with a quarterback that has already faced the pressure of a national championship game and won it. And won it in OT in a myth-making fashion being inserted in the game down 13 points and shut out in the first half.
Hopefully it's a classic game as the teams are very evenly matched it appears. The guessors have one last pick to make for the season. The bowls didn't go that great for picks. There were some unexpected results as usual with the bowl season. And there actually was a game canceled for the first time ever as Boise State-Boston College was called due to severe weather. Travis solidified his position as the worst of the bunch. Allan took home the straight up crown, and go to Vegas with Kyle's picks as he finished 18 games above .500 picking against the spread. (Last week: Travis - 5-9 SU, 6-8 ATS. Allan - 8-6, 7-7. Kyle - 7-7, 7-7.)
Teams on bye: Everyone except Alabama and Clemson
#1 Alabama (-5)
Season Record - Straight Up:
Season Record - Against the Spread: