CFP Championship Pick: Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

by | Jan 2, 2019 | cfb

No. 2 Clemson Tigers (14-0 SU, 8-6 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0 SU, 8-6 ATS)

NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship Game
Date/Time: Monday January 7th, 2019. 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Levi Stadium Santa Clara, C.A.
TV: ESPN

Point Spread:CLEM +7/ALA -7
Over/Under Total: 59.5

For the 3rd time in the last 4 years, the two most elite programs in college football will meet in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game when the no. 2 Clemson Tigers meet the no. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday, January 7th. The Crimson Tide and Tigers will meet for the 4th consecutive year in the playoffs and for the 3rd time in the title game. The Crimson Tide have won 2 of those 3 meetings, but Clemson did score that memorable 2017 victory in the waning seconds to claim their first National Championship in 25 years. Now the two colossal programs meet again garnishing undefeated records in Santa Clara at Levi Stadium. Can Alabama add to their incredible dynasty and maintain the upper hand against the Tigers; or can Dabo Swinney’s Clemson team deliver another underdog style upset?

2019 National Championship Odds and Trends

Both Clemson and Alabama will enter the National Championship Game with identical records (14-0 SU, 8-6 ATS). However, the Crimson Tide is currently favored 7 points mainly due to their complete dominance throughout the majority of the season. By now Alabama has grown accustomed to the high expectations with an astonishing 53 straight games as the betting favorite. The last time the Crimson Tide was an underdog was back against Georgia in October 2015. The Crimson Tide are 30-22-1 ATS over those 53 games. In the playoffs specifically, Alabama is the only team that has made the CFP each season since the playoff’s inception during the 2014 season. In playoff games, Alabama is 5-3 SU and 3-4-1 ATS since 2014.

Clemson has made the playoffs in each of the last 4 years and will make their 3rd National Championship appearance during that time frame. As Alabama’s newest rival, the Tigers have relished the spotlight going 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS in all playoff game appearances over the last 4 seasons. In the semifinal against Notre Dame, Clemson blew away the Fighting Irish in a 30-3 thumping and are becoming an appetizing underdog. Another angle playing in Clemson’s favor is the fact that underdogs have strived in recent title games. In the last 5 National Championship Games, the betting underdog is nearly perfect at 4-0-1 ATS.

Coach Nick Saban looking to become greatest ever

By now, Alabama’s dynasty is undoubtedly the greatest stretch of any team in college football history. However, if Head Coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide pull out another National Championship, it would cement the legacy as the greatest of all-time. The Crimson Tide are going for their 6th National Championship in the Saban era which would tie Alabama’s legendary Paul Bryant for the most in Alabama history. Furthermore, for Saban, it would be he is 7th National Championship all-together which would put him at no. 1 in the poll era dating back to 1936.

Clemson vs. Alabama match-up

Aside from the legacy and records up for grabs, the on-field match-up is very intriguing as well. Alabama’s dominant season has been highlighted by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who has posted some of the best numbers in Alabama history with 3,353 passing yards with 37 touchdowns and just 4 picks. Alabama’s offense has been one of the best in the nation all season averaging a lucrative 47.7 points per game. However, when you compare the teams on paper and from a technical perspective, there is not that much difference. Clemson’s offense has averaged 44.3 points per game as quarterback Trevor Lawrence continues to emerge.

Meanwhile, the Tigers defense is imposing especially up front where they have held opponents to just 92.9 yards per game on the ground (3rd in the FBS) and 13.7 points per game overall (2nd in FBS). Clemson’s defense is actually better than Alabama’s which is the first time I can say that with confidence compared to the last 3 meetings. While Alabama’s offense is also better, it’s hard to ignore the fact these two teams are extremely equal on both sides of the football.

Tigers peaking ahead of National Championship

If you have followed my articles this year, then you know what I think of Alabama. Since about the 3rd week of the season, I have dubbed this Alabama team as the best in the Nick Saban era. If you consider that the Saban era has already produced 5 National Championships, then you know that is one hell of a compliment. However, I must admit that in recent weeks the tables have shifted ever so slightly. Despite pulling out wins over Georgia and Oklahoma, I do not feel like the Crimson Tide have played their best football. The defense has been a touch inconsistent while the offense continues to produce. The part that scares me is that Alabama’s typically dynamic run game has not been nearly as dominant and that is cause for concern against Clemson’s elite defensive front.

Meanwhile, I feel like the Tigers are playing their best football of the season which was never more evident than in last week’s thumping against Notre Dame. Even with the loss of Dexter Lawrence, the defensive front was utterly dominant. On offense, quarterback Trevor Lawrence continued to show why he was one of the biggest recruits in the country out of high school. The freshman quarterback hit 27 of 39 passing for 327 yards with 3 touchdowns to push his yearly mark to nearly 3,000 yards passing with 27 touchdowns and just 4 picks despite not starting the first 4 weeks of the season. Clemson’s offense with Lawrence under center is becoming one of the most efficient groups in America, and they will have the chance to go against an Alabama defense that is not nearly as talented as we have seen in year’s past. Needless to say, the 7 points the Tigers are getting is a complete gift because this game could go either way. In fact, based on pure momentum, I think Clemson may actually have the edge.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Clemson +7. Editor’s Note: Not betting online? Check out our detailed list of best in class sportsbooks to get the perfect fit for your sports wagering style.