For the fourth year in a row the Clemson Tigers will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in a high stakes contest where the national championship hangs in the balance. Both teams finished the 2018 regular season undefeated having vanquished all rivals to reach this National Championship game. Our panelists take a look at this highly anticipated matchup and make their pick as to whether Clemson or Alabama will end the season as the National Champion.
#1 Alabama vs #2 Clemson (Monday at 8:00 in Santa Clara, CA)
Line: Alabama by 6
Steen Kirby: College football’s two best teams both this season and over the recent period. Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney have built a winning culture and maintained it, with both teams unblemished this season, this matchup looks to be competitive. Clemson’s defense will have to prevent the Tide from getting off to a hot start, while Alabama’s depth could help them if the game gets into the 4th quarter. This is a tough game to call but Alabama won last year and they should take a 3-1 lead in this matchup since 2016 by grabbing a win in this game. Alabama 27, Clemson 20
Yesh Ginsburg: Alabama is the favorite, but Oklahoma showed some real vulnerabilities in that defense during the final three quarters. Dabo Swinney and Clemson can exploit that. The only question is whether or not the Clemson defense can slow down Tua Tagovailoa and this Tide offense enough. I think that it can, just barely. Prepare for another classic that goes down to the final seconds. Clemson 35, Alabama 31
John Bava: This is one of those years where if we still had the BCS format, you probably wouldn’t find very many people with qualms about the two participants. Alabama and Clemson are clearly the two best teams in college football this year. Though Oklahoma put up a fight in the second half, there was never any threat of the Crimson Tide losing in the semifinals. And Clemson is coming off holding Notre Dame to three points, the Irish’s lowest ever total in a bowl game.
This game is going to be an absolute war in the trenches. Both teams rank top 5 nationally in sacks, while Bama and Clemson are 10th in 19th among FBS teams in sacks allowed. Among the linemen who should be instant impact players at the next level is Tide left tackle Jonah Williams and Tigers defensive tackle Clelin Ferrell. There’s no doubt that Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence, who both have just four interceptions this season, are in for challenges against these potent pass rushes.
For the first time all season, Alabama is a single-digit favorite. It’s a testament to the dominance Vegas expected out of them week in and week out. But they’ve looked a tad shaky on defense in the previous two games. Plus, Clemson’s elite defensive front could cause problems. This is a huge opportunity for Dabo Swinney to claim his second national title as Tigers head coach. Clemson 38, Alabama 34
Mike Loveall: Here we go again. Alabama and Clemson meet for the championship for the third time in four seasons. Alabama has been dominant all season. Clemson has weathered a transfer and injury and is tested under pressure. That’s important, but not as important as Alabama’s special level of talent and depth. Hate it if you must, but you have to respect it. Alabama 31, Clemson 27
Lukas Weese: This game comes down to how the Clemson D can contain Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. Tua did not face that kind of pressure against Oklahoma. With the blitz packages that Clemson can implement, coupled with a stellar performance by Tigers QB Trevor Lawrence, and I see Clemson taking its second national championship in four years. Clemson 30, Alabama 27