It was a pretty decent bowl season of picks. We went 5-5 straight up and 3-7 against the spread. That's a win in my book. Bowl games are notoriously difficult to pick.
There is one more game to go, and then we head off to the sad time called the offseason. Thanks again for playing this year. We hope to have you back playing again next year and that you have spread the word to some more people. We are always looking to make the site better.
Teams on bye: Everyone except Clemson and Alabama
Monday, January 9, 8:30 PM ET
#1 Alabama VS #2 Clemson (+6.5)
It's no big deal when your offensive coordinator "leaves" the program 1 week before the championship, right? What a bizarre situation. It was kind of the worst kept secret that Nick Saban tolerated Lane Kiffin. He would chew Kiffin out even when the team was up by a ton of points. So Steve Sarkisian will be running the offense for the game after coming to the Tide mid-season as an adviser. If this was any other team except Alabama, this sort of distraction would absolutely derail a team. Or maybe this is all part of Nick Saban's evil genius. So all the media has been talking about is this staff turmoil. They are not focusing on the fact that their offense is being led by true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. He has been real good all year, but you never know when a freshman can have a meltdown and deflecting a lot of attention away from him can only help. Hurts is only ranked 78th in the nation in passing efficiency, but he does have a target in O.J. Howard that can take short passes and make big plays, like he did in last year's championship game. Clemson wreaks havoc in the backfield so Hurts will need to make quick decisions. And he needs to make the right decisions or there could be a lot of turnovers. True freshmen quarterbacks don't lead teams to championships. (Not since Jamelle Holieway did for Oklahoma in 1985.) Can Alabama buck the trend? It will be a key to watch in this game.
Deshaun Watson is the player that makes Clemson’s offense go. He was a Heisman finalist and is a true dual threat with both passing and running. His numbers are down a little from 2015 and his INTs are way up from where most of us would expect of him. He did well in last year's CFB Final by extending plays and making it hell on Bama's line to keep running all over the place, thus the big boys were gasping for air in the end. Clemson runs designed quarterback run plays, but not as much this year to protect Watson from injury but they're still in the playbook. I wouldn't be surprised if you see Watson run a little more than usual tonight. The key to stopping the Clemson offense is stopping Watson, (obviously!!!) easier said than done. The Tigers average over 500 ypg and score 38 ppg. Alabama has the defensive front that could cause Clemson problems. Their defensive line is uber-talented as it is every damn year. They can get pressure without blitzing, which means they will have more men in coverage. Even though Watson can shred you on the ground, he did struggle some in the passing game with forcing the ball into multi-man coverage. If Alabama can generate pressure and keep disciplined contain, the Tide have a good chance of bogging down Clemson’s offense. It will be a challenge for Clemson’s offense, but Dabo is good at making half time adjustments and taking command. Their offense is definitely superior to Alabama’s offense relative to each other when you look at the stats, however. Check mark goes to the Tigers for the offenses.
Alabama has the #1 defense in the land in terms of total defense, rushing defense, and scoring defense. They have had 50 sacks this year. They have scored 11 defensive touchdowns this year. They didn't allow a touchdown in the month of November! They are some baaaad dudes on that defense. I mean that in a good way. I don't know what else to say. If Clemson is going to beat them it will have to be through the air. The Tide only rank 14th in passing defense. (Please read that previous line in a sarcastic tone.) So yeah. They are awesome on defense, maybe the best we've seen in a long time. There's some expert analysis for you.
The defense was the biggest question mark, as it was last year, coming into the season as they had to replace 8 starters from one of the #1 defenses in the nation. The Tiger D more than answered those questions. The Clemson defense did drop from #1…all the way to #8. They are tough to move the ball against and they get pressure....if you noticed that OSU tried to spread them out a little to get something going on offense and they only got better. They have speed for days on D to keep up with the spread. They will have issues against a "run it down your throat" rushing attack that Bama can bring to the table, so look for Bo Scarborough to get a majority of the work much like last game (once Kiffin/everyone on earth finally figured out he couldn't be stopped) to wear down the Clemson D. They have 49 sacks on the season and 2nd in the nation in tackles for loss with 123. It'll be interesting to see what Sark brings to the table with Bama after Kiffin was "let go" last week. I would suspect more of a rushing attack throughout the game. Clemson's D is good, just not on the legendary side as we have seen with Alabama this year. Bama gets the obvious nod on the defensive matchup.
Alabama again is a threat when they return punts. They returned 4 for touchdowns this year. Their defense is so good, they force a ton of punts so they get more opportunities than other teams. Last year Alabama had the huge onside kick to help them win the game. Special teams will play a factor somehow in the outcome of the game again. Their field goal unit is average. They've hit 21 of 28 field goals this year. They definitely will be looking for touchdowns rather than settling for field goals.
Clemson has yet to take one back to the house on punts or kickoffs this year. Which was unexpected to say the least. Clemson is also only 14 of 19 in FGs which again is a surprise as they saw a large drop in FG attempts from last year. Let's face it, Clemson's special teams aren't that sexy this year.....maybe they're waiting for the National Championship to do something. Clearly Bama has the better Special Teams here.
Copy and paste from last year, except now Saban has another national title on his resume: Bama has Nick Saban. I think we're done here.
Dabo is back again. He's obviously a top tier coach and does well enough on the recruiting side to replace his entire D year after year. It will be interesting to see how Dabo does without Mr. Watson. I have a feeling things might drop off slightly. There's no doubt he's a fantastic motivator with a silver tongue....can he compete with Saban year after year? No. By the time Saban is done he'll be considered the greatest of all time. Check goes to Bama again. And we imagine that Bama is going to win another one and cover the spread once more. See ya in August!!!
PICK: Alabama 34 , Clemson 22
Season Record - Straight Up: 93-57
Season Record - Versus Spread: 66-82-2
Upset of the Week: 5-9