After losing to Alabama 24-6 in the semi-finals of last year’s National Championship playoffs, the Clemson Tigers (14-0) went into this season with one goal, find the Tide and get revenge. After a dominant 30-3 victory over outmanned Notre Dame in the semis, Clemson will get its wish. It was Freshman QB Trevor Lawrence who came of age by throwing for 327 yards and 3 TDs against one of the top defenses in the country. WR Justyn Ross caught 6 passes for 148 yards and 2 of the TDs, while All-American RB Travis Etienne added 109 yards rushing and 1 TD. The defense was simply awesome, holding the Fighting Irish to 250 total yards of offense. Just another day at the office for a Clemson team that turned in this kind of a performance all season.
The Alabama Crimson Tide used a nicely balanced offense and 4 TD passes from Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa to beat a very good Oklahoma Sooner team 45-34. The sophomore QB was nothing short of brilliant, completing 24 of 27 passes and 318 yards. Four difference receivers caught TD passes and RB Damien Harris added 2 TDs on 48 yards rushing. The four TD passes gave Tagovailoa 41 TD passes on the season, a brilliant number for a team that historically features the running game. The Tide defense did give up just over 480 yards to the Sooners, the third best offensive unit in the country. During the regular season, the Alabama defense (ranked 20th in the country), played extremely well, but did show occasional vulnerability against the pass.
Prediction: In last year’s matchup between these two teams, the Bama defensive line simply dominated the Clemson offense. This is a much better Clemson offense with Lawrence at the wheel. Clemson also has a much better defense than they put forth last season. If Alabama is to successfully defend its title, they have to run the ball. That’s a problem. The line makes this game a toss-up, but the total looks a little high for two teams that can literally shut down any offense in the country. Play under 59.5 (Final Score – Alabama 28-24)