Alabama vs Clemson Championship Preview, Prediction, Live Stream online Info

Alabama vs Clemson are set for the first national championship game rematch in college football history. The two teams have been near the top of the rankings all season with the Tide looking to go wire-to-wire at No. 1 in the three major rankings. With the College Football Playoff National Championship upon us, it’s only fitting we bring you our expert picks for the big game in Tampa on Monday, Jan. 9 Alabama vs Clemson .

Alabama vs Clemson

Alabama vs Clemson: Game Info

No. 1 Alabama (14-0) vs. No. 2 Clemson (13-1)
Monday, Jan. 9, 2017
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

Alabama vs Clemson: How to Watch Online
Game time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live stream: WatchESPN
Live updates:

Alabama vs Clemson Preview

Three Things to Watch

1. Steve Sarkisian and the Alabama Offense
Changing coordinators a week before the national championship is a risky move by Alabama coach Nick Saban. However, it was clear the Crimson Tide’s offense did not fire on all cylinders in the win over Washington, and it’s fair to say coordinator Lane Kiffin was certainly distracted trying to juggle two jobs. With Saban pushing Kiffin to FAU a week earlier than anticipated, Steve Sarkisian is set to call the plays in Monday night’s game. Sarkisian was already set to take over the play-calling duties in 2017 and essentially operates the same system that Kiffin utilized during his three years in Tuscaloosa. The transition from Kiffin to Sarkisian won’t be too noticeable in terms of how the Crimson Tide offense operates. But there will be differences in how the two coaches call a game, make adjustments or interact with the players on the sidelines.
Sarkisian’s new role is the biggest wild card storyline to watch on Monday night. Any other team that changed coordinators a week before the national championship probably couldn’t make it work. However, Saban and Alabama should have a seamless transition to Sarkisian for Monday’s game.
The biggest challenge for Sarkisian will be getting freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts comfortable in the passing game. In last week’s Peach Bowl win over Washington, Hurts completed only 7 of 14 throws for 57 yards. The freshman added 50 yards on the ground against the Huskies, which gave him 891 for the season. The emergence of Hurts and his dual-threat ability has provided another dimension for this Alabama offense. The Crimson Tide always have a strong ground attack, but the offense is even more dangerous with a mobile quarterback.
Hurts isn’t hurting for talented weapons on the outside. ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley form a standout tandem on the outside or in the slot, while tight end O.J. Howard (41 catches) torched Clemson’s defense in last year’s game. Clemson will counter with a secondary that ranked fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense and is led by standouts Jadar Johnson (safety) and Cordrea Tankersley (cornerback).
Alabama won’t need Hurts to throw for 300 yards on Monday night to win. However, the freshman has to play a mistake-free game, utilize his legs to get 60-80 yards on the ground and hit on a couple of big plays to keep the Clemson defense from crowding the box to stop the run. And of course – adapt to a new play-caller.

Related: 10 X-Factors for Clemson vs. Alabama

2. Clemson’s Offense Against Alabama’s Defense
This is the most anticipated one-on-one matchup for Monday night’s game. It’s a showdown of strength versus strength, as Clemson ranks 13th nationally by averaging 39.5 points per game, and Alabama’s defense ranks first by limiting opponents to 11.4 points per contest. The Crimson Tide create a lot of havoc at the line of scrimmage (50 sacks) and rank among the nation’s best in generating takeaways (27). In addition to its ability to create turnovers, Alabama’s defense also converts those takeaways directly into points. This unit has scored 11 times on defense this season, which is a concern for a Clemson offense that has lost 26 turnovers in 2016.
Finding a weakness for Alabama’s defense isn’t easy. However, mobile quarterbacks and spread attacks give Saban and the Crimson Tide the most trouble. Clemson checks off both of those boxes, with quarterback Deshaun Watson likely to give this defense a lot of trouble once again. Watson totaled 478 yards in last season’s 45-40 loss to Alabama and was able to extend several plays with his mobility. In 2016, Watson threw for 4,173 yards and added 586 yards on the ground. The junior did not run as much this season as he did in 2015, but with the national championship expected to be his final game in a Clemson uniform, the coaching staff isn’t going to hold back on letting Watson run as much as necessary. As mentioned above, interceptions have been a slight problem for the junior in 2016. After tossing 13 over 491 attempts in 2015, Watson has been intercepted 17 times on 523 pass attempts in 2016.
Watson’s ability to extend plays and attack downfield will be a tough assignment for an Alabama defense that is not as deep in the secondary as in previous years. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and cornerback Marlon Humphrey are the headliners in the secondary for coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, but this unit allowed 18 plays of 30 yards or more in 2016. Clemson has a deep array of targets for Watson to utilize, starting with 6-foot-3 receiver Mike Williams (90 catches), tight end Jordan Leggett (39), Deon Cain (33), Artavis Scott (73) and sure-handed sophomore Hunter Renfrow (34).
How will Alabama counter Clemson’s offense and hope to slow down Watson? The Crimson Tide need to win on early downs and keep the Tigers in third-and-long situations. The battle in the trenches will be critical for both sides, as well as limiting the big plays. Considering the firepower on Clemson’s sideline, it’s likely this offense is going to churn out its share of yards. However, the Crimson Tide would trade yards for stops on third downs and in the red zone.

3. Rushing Attacks and Offensive Line Play
Much of the focus for Monday night’s game will be centered around the two quarterbacks – Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson – but the battle in the trenches and ground attack will be just as critical to the outcome.
Both teams have experienced their share of ups and downs in the trenches and will be matched against a standout line on the other side.
Alabama’s defensive front is anchored by first-team All-American Jonathan Allen at end, while tackle Da’Ron Payne is an underrated cog in the middle. Allen and Payne are a big reason why the rush defense is first in the nation and will be tasked with disrupting the timing of Clemson’s offense at the initial snap. Can the Tigers match the physicality of Alabama’s front and protect Watson? Additionally, can Swinney’s front five generate a push on the ground? Running back Wayne Gallman has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns but managed only 45 yards in last year’s matchup. The Tigers don’t need 100 yards from Gallman to win. However, a little balance would keep Alabama’s standout line on its heels.
While Alabama proved it could win a shootout over Clemson last season, the Crimson Tide would prefer a lower-scoring game and to control the overall pace and tempo. To do so, the offense needs its line to step up. Tackles Cam Robinson and Jonah Williams are two of the best in the nation, and this duo will be matched against a standout line on the other side. The Tigers are loaded with athleticism, talent and depth in the trenches, with the front four headlined by tackles Carlos Watkins and Dexter Lawrence, along with end Christian Wilkins.
In last week’s win over Washington, Alabama recorded 269 yards on the ground. Bo Scarbrough accounted for 180 yards on 19 carries and is likely to see around 20 carries on Monday night. The Tigers rank 19th nationally against the run and limit opponents to just 3.5 yards per carry. Can Clemson slow Scarbrough and prevent Alabama from controlling the tempo by grinding it out on the ground? Or will the Crimson Tide win the battle in the trenches and keep Watson and the high-powered offense on the sidelines? Generating a pass rush against Hurts will be critical for coordinator Brent Venables. If the Tigers can force Hurts to beat them from the pocket – instead of making plays with his legs or attacking the edges – there’s a good chance Clemson will hoist the national championship trophy.

Five Numbers to Know
Turnover Margin: Alabama +8, Clemson +1
Third-Down Offense: Clemson 5th nationally, Alabama 21st
Third-Down Defense: Clemson 6th nationally, Alabama 7th
Red Zone Offense: Alabama 24th nationally, Clemson 71st
Red Zone Defense: Clemson 22nd nationally, Alabama 45th nationally


Dennis Dodd — Clemson 27, Alabama 20: Clemson is playing too well and there is too much upheaval at Alabama at the moment. Look, it takes a lot to even pick against Bama, but the planets are aligning. Dabo already knows the Alabama gameplan, having faced it last year. For the second consecutive year, he has the best player on the field (Deshaun Watson). Nick Saban is asking an analyst — albeit with head coaching experience — to call plays in the national championship for the first time 11 years and for the first time at all in 15 months. As weird as Lane Kiffin might have been, Steve Sarkisian left the game because of substance abuse issues. Now, he inherits a quarterback in a winner take all game who — despite Jalen Hurts’ success — has been learning how to play QB in the context of chasing a championship. Even Saban can’t overcome all that. You know what looks like stability right now? I hate to say this but … Kiffin.
Jon Solomon — Clemson 20, Alabama 17: Watson and Clemson are highly motivated to redeem themselves after last year. The Tigers are the rare team with the players and style to seriously challenge Alabama’s incredible defense for 60 minutes. If anyone can pull off changing offensive coordinators one week before the national championship, it’s Saban. I actually like Alabama’s chances better without Kiffin. That tells you what a mess it became with Kiffin. Look at the confidence right now in Watson and Hurts. That’s the difference as Clemson wins its second national title.

Jerry Palm — Alabama 27, Clemson 20: As much as the talk has been about how Clemson wants another shot at Alabama, I think Alabama’s defense in particular wants another shot at Clemson. The Tide gave up 40 points to the Tigers last year, and that’s not something that will sit well in the defensive meeting rooms this week. Not only does Alabama have the best defense in the country, but it will be one that comes into this game with a chip on its shoulder. The Tigers have too many weapons to shut down completely, so they’ll have better success than Washington, but not enough. Clemson’s defense will be hard pressed to duplicate the game they had against Ohio State. They played at a level they hadn’t shown all year against good teams. It’ll take that kind of effort again to have a chance to win.
Tom Fornelli — Alabama 31, Clemson 23: If there’s one team in the country that I would seriously consider capable of beating Alabama, it’s Clemson. That being said, I’m still picking Alabama. I get that aside from Clemson being incredibly talented, and having Watson. There’s a lot of concern over the upheaval at Alabama, but while I don’t think it’s an ideal situation, I also think it’s being overblown.
Sarkisian has been a coach for 17 years, including six as a head coach. I don’t think a few months away from calling plays will lead to him forgetting how football works.
Also, even if the Alabama offense struggles, Clemson still needs to solve the Alabama defense. As amazing as Watson has been this year, he’s still turned the ball over a lot. As we have all seen on a weekly basis, if there’s a defense you don’t want to turn the ball over against, it’s Alabama’s. And they can force them. I expect this to be a close game, and possibly even a classic, but at the end of it, the team holding up the trophy will be the one that’s done it before. Roll Tide and whatnot.

Robby Kalland — Alabama 27 Clemson 24: I expect this to be a lower-scoring version of last year’s game where we get tremendous performances from both teams in a narrow Alabama win. For the most part, Watson has been able to outplay his turnovers this season, but I think against this Alabama defense, his propensity for giving the ball to the opposition will finally be too much to overcome.
I expect the Tide’s defense to come in with a game plan that makes him sit in the pocket and throw the ball, rather than trying to heat him up and move him after he was so dominant as a runner and scrambler last year and has shown he’ll throw interceptions this season. Clemson’s a great team with the better quarterback, but it’s impossible for me to pick against this Alabama defense this season.
Ben Kercheval — Clemson 30, Alabama 26: The temptation to ride with Alabama, who has unquestionably been the best team from start to finish this season, was high. Besides, the Crimson Tide have been outrageously good against the spread, even as heavy favorites. Also, I’m of the belief the change at offensive coordinator from Kiffin to Sarkisian is overblown.
There may be some philosophical differences from Kiffin to Sark, but Alabama isn’t about to go reinvent their wheel with just a handful of practices left before the biggest game of the year. But I look at these two teams, and with Alabama’s defense being so dominant, it feels like the Tide’s offensive inconsistencies have been masked. And Clemson has been playing its best football since losing to Pitt. Yeah, there’s the whole revenge factor from last year, but it just seems like Clemson is playing its best football now.
Chip Patterson — Alabama 31, Clemson 27: Watson is the best quarterback Alabama has faced since, well, Watson, and he’ll have two stud receivers in Mike Williams (injury) and Deon Cain (suspension) that both missed last year’s title game. The Tigers versatile and athletic run-stopping front is perfect to slow down Alabama and I think the Tide will find themselves tested in a way they haven’t been all season, maybe even trail for most of the game. But all season, the creeping inevitability of another Saban Alabama championship has been right around the corner and now it’s here. My heart says Clemson, my cynical brain says nothing can or will stop the Alabama death machine. Roll Tide.

Alabama vs Clemson, 2016 College Football Playoff Championship: Time, TV schedule, live stream and 3 things to know

Alabama vs Clemson: After three months, hundreds of games and countless hours of speculation, the college football season ends Monday night when No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Alabama square off in the College Football Playoff Championship. The national championship, being played this season at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., kicks off at 8:30 ET on Monday. Television coverage is available on ESPN, and online streaming will be provided by WatchESPN.

Alabama vs Clemson

Alabama, the only team to make both of the first two College Football Playoff fields, is playing for its fourth title in the last seven seasons under coach Nick Saban. Clemson, on the other hand, has not won a national championship since 1981.

Alabama vs Clemson

The National Championship will fittingly be the only game this season featuring two Heisman Trophy finalists. Alabama halfback Derrick Henry broke nearly every SEC single-season rushing record this year, running for 2,061 yards and 25 touchdowns through the Crimson Tide’s Cotton Bowl win over Michigan State. Meanwhile, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was a consensus All-American and won nearly every accolade but the Heisman Trophy. The sophomore has rolled up more than 4,700 yards of total offense, including 1,032 rushing yards.

How to watch, stream and listen

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Radio: Alabama and Clemson affiliates available.

Online streaming: WatchESPN

Megacast: Watch and listen to the game in 14 different ways on various ESPN stations and platforms, plus on WatchESPN.

Spread: Alabama is favored by 7 points.

Make friends: Get to SB Nation’s team blog chats for this game at Roll Bama Roll (for Alabama fans) and Shakin’ the Southland (for Clemson fans).

Three big things to know

It’s elementary, Watson. Under Saban, the Alabama defense has been college football’s least movable object. But the Crimson Tide has been occasionally vulnerable to dual-threat quarterbacks. Players like Nick Marshall, Bo Wallace, Chad Kelly and Johnny Manziel have led their teams to improbable wins over Alabama. With the possible exception of Manziel, no dual-threat quarterback in that group has been as good as Watson. The Tigers’ sophomore signal-caller has been rolling up massive yardage totals — both through the air and on the ground — since early October. Increasingly, Watson’s running has been as important as his passing — in five of the last six games, Watson has run for more than 100 yards. Beating Alabama’s defense isn’t easy, but if anyone can do it this season, it’s Watson.

Oh Henry. All of this could be deemed irrelevant if Clemson is unable to stop Henry. The Heisman Trophy winner has come up big in wins over then-ranked Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas A&M and LSU. Only two Power 5 conference opponents — Arkansas and Michigan State — have held Henry under 125 rushing yards all season. He only became stronger down the stretch, topping 200 yards against SEC opponents Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn. Alabama won all four games comfortably. This is not a coincidence. If Henry finds room to run, Clemson is going to have a difficult time keeping up. It will help Clemson if star defensive end Shaq Lawson can play. The Tigers are “optimistic” he can.

This calls for a Coker. Even when Henry isn’t particularly effective, it could be by design. Alabama was able to blow out No. 3 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl by effectively playing against type. Michigan State tried to cram the interior with defenders to stop the running game, so Lane Kiffin called for quarterback Jake Coker to attack the edges with short throws to Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart and Richard Mullaney. The result: Coker’s biggest game of the year, 25 completions for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Can he do it again? The consensus had been that Alabama’s offense could be stopped if the running game could be limited. That might not be the case anymore.


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Clemson vs Alabama gameday guide: How to watch, key players, more

Clemson vs Alabama: The Clemson Tigers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Who: Clemson (14-0) vs. Alabama (13-1)

When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Where: Glendale, Ariz.


Radio: 93.1 FM in Columbia area

Satellite radio: SiriusXM Ch. 80

Series record: Alabama leads 13-3

Line: Alabama by 6 1/2

Clemson vs Alabama


Record: 13-1, 7-1 SEC

Head Coach: Nick Saban (Kent State ’73)

Saban’s Overall/Years: 190-60-1 (.759) / 20th Season

Saban’s Alabama/Years: 99-18 (.846) / 9th Season

Saban in Bowl Games: 9-8 (.529) / 6-3 (.667) at Alabama

National Ranking: CFP (2); AP (2); Coaches (2)

Bowl Appearances: 63

Bowl Record: 35-24-3 (.589)

Bowl Streak: W1 (Win against Michigan State 38-0 in 2015 Cotton Bowl)

Formations: Offense: Pro Style (Multiple) • Defense: 3-4

Players to watch

RB Derrick Henry (6-3, 242, Jr., Yulee, Fla.)

Winner of the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and SEC Offensive Player of the Year award… Leads the nation with 2,061 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns… Second in the SEC and in the FBS with 147.2 rushing yards per game… Broke both school and conference records in rushing yards… Consensus All-American selection.

LB Reggie Ragland (6-2, 252, Sr., Madison, Ala.)

SEC Defensive Player of the Year and captain of a defense that led the nation in rushing defense, second in total defense and third in scoring defense… Leads Alabama with 97 takcles, including 6.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks.

OL Ryan Kelly (6-5, 297, Sr., West Chester, Ohio)

Concensus All-American selection, winner of the Rimington Trophy and co-recipient of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy… Named the 2015 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year… Graded out at an average of 88.4 percent with five games over 90 percent… Led an offense that produced the 2015 Heisman winner in Derrick Henry.


Record: 14-0, 8-0 ACC

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney (Alabama ’93)

Swinney’s Overall/Years: 75-26 (.743) / 7th Season

Swinney’s Clemson/Years: 75-26 (.743) / 7th Season

Swinney in Bowl Games: 5-3 (.625)

National Rankings: CFP (1); AP (1); Coaches (1)

Clemson Bowl Appearances: 38

Clemson Bowl Record: 20-18 (.526)

Clemson Bowl Streak: W4 (Last: Win against Oklahoma 37-417 in 2015 Orange Bowl)

Players to watch

QB Deshaun Watson (6-2, 210, So., Gainesville, Ga.)

Named a Consensus First Team All-American… Earned All-ACC First Team and ACC Player of the Year honors… Leads the ACC in passing yards (3,699), passing touchdowns (31) and passing efficiency (155.9)… Has also rushed for 1,302 yards and 12 scores.

WR Artavis Scott (5-11, 190, So., Clearwater, Fla.)

First Team All-ACC selection for the Tigers that leads the team and is fourth in the conference with 868 receiving yards… Stands first for Clemson and seventh in the ACC with 62.0 receiving yards per game… Reeled in five touchdowns this year… Averages 86.71 all-purpose yards per game.

DB Jayron Kearse (6-5, 220, Jr., Fort Myers, Fla.)

Earned First Team All-American honors from… Totaled 84 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, eight pass breakups and one interception on the season… Forced and recovered one fumble for the season, while also blocking one kick.

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Alabama vs Clemson: Key Storylines for College Football Championship 2016

Alabama vs Clemson: The College Football Championship matchup between No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Alabama features two of the three Heisman Trophy finalists, numerous future NFL-caliber players and plenty of resultant intrigue. But while it’s obvious to focus on Alabama running back, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, and Clemson star quarterback Deshaun Watson, there are other key storylines and developments to take into account.

Alabama vs Clemson

Ahead of Monday’s grand College Football Playoff finale, there are certain points of focus worth honing in on to better determine who may emerge as the new national champion. Check out some of the notable storylines to watch for:

Alabama vs. Clemson Key Storylines

Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson has racked up a whopping 23.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks this season, but unfortunately he suffered a sprained MCL in the 37-17 Orange Bowl win over Oklahoma.

“How I feel when it comes to game time? Hopefully, I’ll be feeling right,” said Lawson on Tuesday, per’s Michael Wayne Bratton. “I’ll say if we played tomorrow, I couldn’t be able to play. That’s how I feel right now.”

And what a loss it would be if Lawson couldn’t go. Although he’s been spotted on the practice field with a brace on his knee, per Orange and White’s Dan Hope, the All-American junior figures to be hobbled at best and probably not as disruptive as he usually is.

Kevin Dodd plays well in his own right as the edge-rusher opposite Lawson, but the two complement each other so well. CFB Film Room highlighted how well Dodd did to fill in for Lawson when he went down early in the Orange Bowl:Making that much of an impact against the Sooners is one thing. A similar performance against the beefy, extremely physical Alabama offensive line is quite a tall order for Dodd to fulfill.

Both B.J. Goodson and Ben Boulware are exemplary players in the Tigers’ linebacker corps. They fly to the football and have helped Clemson rank 18th in the country in rush defense. Those two will need to step up and commit to denying Henry for Lawson’s injury to not be a devastating blow.

Can Jake Coker Keep It Up?

And that last section leads well into this one regarding the Crimson Tide signal-caller. Coker had what may be the game of his life to date in Alabama’s 38-0 romp over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl. He was 25-of-30 passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns, relying heavily on freshman phenom wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who hauled in both TD passes.

If Lawson, Dodd and Co. can’t get in Coker’s face and hit him early and often, there’s reason to believe his form from the Cotton Bowl will carry over. Michigan State was supposed to be a formidable defense—and it limited Henry to less than four yards per tote. No easy task.

One player who could make life easier to apply pressure on Coker is stud Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander.

Bleacher Report NFL draft expert Matt Miller believes Alexander may be the best at his position in all the land:Capable of taking away half the field with his airtight man-to-man coverage, Alexander will be tasked with shutting down Ridley. That should serve as one of the better and pivotal one-on-one matchups that most determines the national championship’s outcome.

Clemson may have a good enough individual player to take Ridley almost completely away.

That would be bad news for Coker, whose next-best receiver in ArDarius Stewart hasn’t had a 100-yard performance all season. Stewart isn’t as explosive as Ridley or as much of a big-play threat as Coker’s favorite target.

The Alexander-Ridley duel looms large when finding the answer to this subsection’s initial question.Speaking of head-to-head battles, another important one won’t take place on the field—but rather on the sidelines.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is aiming for his fourth national title amid an already brilliant tenure. He tends to criticize and be meticulous when his team has a game well in hand; encouraging and not at all flustered in the rare instances when the Tide are trailing.

Dabo Swinney, an Alabama alum and former receiver for the football team, seldom is bereft of maximum energy, wears his emotions on his sleeve and always appears to have an optimistic outlook as Clemson’s coach.

When it comes to knocking off perceived superior counterparts, Swinney has quite a fine record in recent years, per Clemson Football:The pragmatic, “Process”-oriented Saban has taken the Tide to epic heights. The Tigers are on the precipice of a true landmark triumph with a most unconventional leader who is quite the opposite of “old school” and seems to enjoy every moment.

None of this has to do with football per se. Both men are excellent when it comes to the X’s and O’s. They wouldn’t have made it to this point without the schematic savvy, but the way they lead is so strikingly different that it can’t be ignored.

On the biggest stage and under the biggest national microscope, both men will have to deal with the game’s circumstances in the moment, in their own way.

Swinney has never been here before, but he and Clemson just may have enough naivete to knock off the mighty Crimson Tide. Then again, the steady, more stable Saban could once again be the one raising the most prestigious piece of hardware in all of college football.

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Alabama vs Clemson-5 Key College Football Playoff National Championship Matchups

Alabama vs Clemson: Clemson and Alabama go head-to-head Monday night to determine this season’s national champion. Since the teams are evenly matched, it’ll be the games-within-the-game that’ll eventually dictate a winner. These five pairings will be so good and so significant that they’ll warrant their own separate TV crew to follow their every move.

Alabama vs Clemson

5. LT Mitch Hyatt (Clemson) vs. DE Jonathan Allen (Alabama)

Hyatt has been the poster child—emphasis going on child—of the Tiger O-line’s improbable rise from preseason question mark to in-season strength.

Clemson has muscled its way past expectations at the point of attack, with its talented true freshman manning the edge. But Hyatt, who was dinged early on, is coming off a so-so Orange Bowl, and Bama presents his toughest test of the year.

Allen is the Tide’s most explosive rusher off the edge, with the range and the lateral quickness to flush Deshaun Watson from the pocket. Allen tormented Connor Cook last week and provides a complementary flash to bigger linemates A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed.

4. LT Cam Robinson (Alabama) vs. DE Kevin Dodd (Clemson)

Watson has the footwork and agility to escape pressure when his protection breaks down. Bama QB Jacob Coker, though, is a far more stationary target.

The quarterbacks must be afforded time, especially Coker, who’s rushed for 944 fewer yards than Watson through 14 games. And whether or not DE Shaq Lawson’s knee is 100%, Clemson is going to bring the heat from the first two levels of the D. Dodd has played his way into the NFL Draft in 2015 by collecting 79 tackles, 18.5 stops for loss and nine sacks. However, standing in his way this week is Robinson, an All-SEC pick who shut down Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun last Thursday

3. MLB B.J. Goodson (Clemson) vs. RB Derrick Henry (Alabama)

Few have successfully slowed down Henry, who broke the 2,000-yard threshold last week. If Clemson is to be an exception, it’ll need a monster game from Goodson in the middle.

The Tigers are rugged and underrated at linebacker, led by Goodson and Ben Boulware who possess good size and strength to go along with the ability to make plays going downhill. When Goodson and Henry butt heads, it’ll be 250 pounds hitting 242 pounds, respectively, a collision of power punchers. The keys for Goodson and Boulware will be to diagnose, get to the hole quickly and wrap up in space. Sounds simple enough until defenders begin bouncing off No. 2 in demoralizing fashion.

2. CB Mackensie Alexander (Clemson) vs. WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)

In terms of true head-to-head, mano-a-mano matchups, this should be the most compelling one of the night.

Bama’s going to need something from the passing attack to beat the Clemson D. And Ridley is the centerpiece of the aerial attack, playing like the second coming of Amari Cooper in his debut out of Monarch (Fla.) High School. He was dynamite in the semifinal game with Michigan State, making eight grabs for 138 yards and two scores. Going stride-for-stride with Ridley, though, will be Alexander, who hasn’t given up a touchdown pass this season. And if Ridley is neutralized, the Tide has no one else who can lengthen the defense.

1. MLB Reggie Ragland (Alabama) vs. QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson)

It’s been well-documented that five of Bama’s last six losses were to team’s with athletic quarterbacks. And since Watson is one of just three FBS QBs with at least 1,000 yards on the ground in 2015, Ragland will need to know where he is at all times.

The problem in defending Watson is that he can beat you in so many different ways. It’s going to be fascinating to see how he fares against the Bama front seven, which is littered with next-level linemen and linebackers. At 252 pounds, Ragland is more of a thumper than a sideline-to-sideline stalker, so he’ll need to make Watson pay for leaving the pocket. If the Tide can hammer Watson, a slender 210-pounder, he’ll be gun-shy and uneasy about leaving the pocket after enduring a few hits from Ragland and his mates.

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Position analysis: Where do Alabama, Clemson have edge in title game?

Alabama vs Clemson:Alabama seeks its 16th national championship when it faces off against Clemson on Monday in Glendale, Ariz. The Tigers, meanwhile, have just one title (1981) to their name. Based on history alone, this year’s title game looks like a mismatch, one blue-blood program hoping to fend off a surging up-and-comer.

Alabama vs Clemson

But championships aren’t won on tradition alone, of course. Alabama and Clemson both boast plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, making for an intriguing matchup on paper. So who truly holds the edge? offers a position group-by-position group breakdown of this season’s national championship game.


Deshaun Watson finished third in Heisman Trophy voting even before he accumulated 332 yards of total offense in Clemson’s 37–17 win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. That performance made Watson the single-season leader for total offense (4,731 yards) at Clemson, all as a true sophomore coming off a torn ACL. On the other sideline, Alabama’s Jake Coker has looked sharper of late, completing 73% of his passes for 1,703 yards with nine touchdowns in his last 10 games. But Coker simply isn’t the all-around offensive threat that Watson is.

Advantage: Clemson

• STAPLES: Numbers game: Can Alabama D stop Deshaun Watson?

Running Backs

​Wayne Gallman’s contributions to the Tigers have gone somewhat unnoticed thanks to Watson’s star-studded campaign. Gallman finished as the program’s single-season rushing leader (1,482 yards) after chipping in 150 yards against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. But Alabama has a Heisman Trophy winner in its backfield in Derrick Henry, who set the SEC single-season rushing mark (2,061 yards) and has more than twice as many touchdowns as Gallman. Throw in Kenyan Drake, the Tide’s capable second-string rusher, and Alabama’s backfield remains a sight to behold.
Advantage: Alabama


Clemson’s pass-catching corps took a hit when it lost No. 1 receiver Mike Williams, who hauled in 1,030 yards in 2014, to a neck injury in the season-opener vs. Wofford. Yet Charone Peake, Artavis Scott and Deon Cain (who remains suspended for the title game after violating team rules) stepped up as targets for Watson this year. The same could be said for tight end Jordan Leggett, a first-team All-ACC pick. But Alabama has the single best receiving threat in this game in true freshman Calvin Ridley. The former five-star signee broke Amari Cooper’s freshman receiving record with 1,031 yards through 14 games. Ridley will be the best receiver on the field, and he teams up with ArDarius Stewart against the Tigers.

Advantage: Alabama

Offensive Line

labama finished the year with three All-SEC picks on the offensive line: center Ryan Kelly (first team), tackle Cam Robinson (first team) and guard Dominick Jackson (second team). Kelly and Robinson were the only two returning starters on the Crimson Tide’s offense, and they helped pave the way for Henry’s Heisman-winning season. Clemson, meanwhile, placed two linemen on All-ACC first- or second-teams in guard Eric Mac Lain and center Jay Guillermo. That unit allowed just 16 sacks this season, 19th nationally, and protected another Heisman finalist in Watson.

Advantage: Push

Defensive Line

Alabama’s front seven has been historically great in 2015, and that dominance starts up front. The Crimson Tide made up half the All-SEC first-team defensive line with end A’Shawn Robinson and nose guard Jonathan Allen. That line helped Bama finish first nationally in rushing defense (2.3 yards allowed per carry) and sacks per game (3.57), with Allen getting to the quarterback 12 times alone. Clemson’s defensive line is no slouch, with All-ACC first-team end Shaq Lawson teaming with fellow end Kevin Dodd and tackles D.J. Reader and Carlos Watkins to more than make up for the loss of All-America end Vic Beasley. Lawson amassed 10.5 sacks on the year as the Tigers ranked seventh in the FBS with 3.07 per game. After missing most of the Orange Bowl with a left knee injury, Lawson is expected to play in the national championship game. Clemson makes it close, but it’s hard for any team to match the ferocity of Alabama’s defensive front in 2015.
Advantage: Alabama


Tigers linebackers Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson, two of the team’s top three tacklers in 2015, both earned All-ACC honors after also combining for 22 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Boulware and Goodson proved their ball-hawking ability in the Orange Bowl, as well, securing one interception each off Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Alabama has its own deep arsenal of linebackers that have fortified its front seven. Senior Reggie Ragland is the Tide’s top tackler (97), while Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams have combined for 16.5 sacks. Both squads load up talent in the middle, but Alabama’s depth sets it apart.

Advantage: Alabama

Defensive Backs

The back end of Alabama’s defense has been its Achilles’ heel in recent years, giving up far too many big plays. This season, however, that group has seemingly improved. The Crimson Tide rank fifth in the nation in passes defended at 6.5 per game—up from 5.14 in 2014—behind players like first-team All-SEC safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Cyrus Jones. Clemson safety Jayron Kearse and cornerback Mackenzie Alexander both earned first-team All-ACC honors this season, and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley is also a disruptive threat. The Tigers’ secondary has been the more consistent unit in 2015.

Advantage: Clemson

Special Teams

Clemson is the more dangerous in the kicking game with Greg Huegel, who knocked in 86.2% of his field goals this season and set a program record with 25 made kicks. Alabama, however, has the edge at punter with sophomore JK Scott (44.4 yards-per-punt average). But the real game-changer is the Tide’s Cyrus Jones, who leads all FBS players with four punt returns for touchdowns this season, an Alabama record.

Advantage: Alabama

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Alabama vs Clemson 2016: Betting Odds For College Football Playoff National Championship

Alabama vs. Clemson 2016: The Clemson Tigers have been the best team in the country this season, but they are significant underdogs in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship. The No.2 Alabama Crimson Tide are giving the No.1 ranked team seven points in their meeting on Jan 11. Clemson was an underdog in the CFP semifinal, despite entering the contest at 13-0. But the Tigers beat Oklahoma handily, winning 37-17 and claiming their fourth victory over a top-10 team.

Alabama vs Clemson

Alabama had an even easier time reaching the national title game, shutting out Michigan State, 38-0. It was the 11th consecutive victory for the Crimson Tide, whose only loss this season came against Ole Miss on Sept. 19. Alabama was nearly a double-digit favorite over Michigan State, and they have five wins over teams in the top 25 CFP rankings.

According to, Alabama opened as six-point favorites at Las Vegas casinos. The betting public is backing the Crimson Tide, who have been favored in almost every game in the last several years. When Alabama was given points in their Oct. 3 matchup against Georgia, it marked the first time that Nick Saban’s team was an underdog at kickoff since 2009.Not only has Alabama not lost since September, but they’ve been winning by large margins. Only one of their victories has come by less than 13 points, and they have beaten their last six opponents by an average of 26.2 points per game.

The over/under for the national title game is 51 points. Alabama has the nation’s No.3 ranked defense, and they haven’t allowed more than 16 points in their last six games. All but one of those contests have totaled 46 points or fewer.

Clemson has scored at least 33 points in five consecutive games. The final score in six of the Tigers’ last eight games has featured at least 54 total points.

Alabama is looking to win their fourth national title under Saban since the 2009 season. The Crimson Tide are 3-0 in national championship games under the head coach, and they won back-to-back championships in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

It’s been 24 years since Clemson won their only national title. The Tigers have won bowl games in four straight seasons.

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Alabama vs Clemson: Point Spread & Over-Under

Alabama vs. Clemson: The college football national championship is 2 Alabama against 1 Clemson. The two teams will face off on January 11th, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. According to OddsShark, Alabama is favored by seven points. The over-under is set at 52.5 points.

Alabama vs Clemson

Alabama vs Clemson

Alabama opened favored by six to seven points according to various sports books. Pinnacle Sports had Alabama as a six point favorite while Westgate had the Crimson Tide favored by seven.Clemson had a dominating performance against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to advance to the title game.

The national championship features Clemson coach Dabo Swinney against his alma mater. Swinney was a walk-on football player at Alabama.

Alabama showed more of an explosive offense in the Cotton Bowl than we have seen all season. They did so against a good Michigan State defense.

Clemson pulled away from Oklahoma in the second half of the Orange Bowl and displayed a dynamic offensive attack.

The Crimson Tide traditionally do not have problems with teams like Michigan State. The Spartans played a similar style as Alabama, but a less polished version.

The Vegas line for the national title game is much closer than the spread for the Cotton Bowl. Part of the reason is the threat that the Clemson offense poses to Alabama.

DeShaun Watson is exactly the kind of quarterback that can have success against Alabama. He is able to move around in the pocket to extend plays and also offers a threat with his legs.

Like the rankings, the F+ Ratings have Alabama and Clemson as the top two rated teams.

Just like they were in the Orange Bowl, Clemson finds themselves as underdogs again heading into the title matchup. Swinney’s sqaud has succeeded in this role and love playing with a chip on their shoulder.

It will be an entertaining matchup with teams with contrasting styles.

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