Clemson & Alabama's Defense To Shine In Championship

Clemson Tigers players celebrating

Willie Bee

Monday, January 2, 2017 4:10 PM GMT

Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 4:10 PM GMT

We've come full circle over the last 12 months to return to a rematch between Alabama and Clemson in the National Championship, and we've got a free college football pick.

One year later, we're right back where we were at the 2016 College Football Playoff Championship. About the only difference is the venue for the matchup between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide, this time taking place in Tampa.

Even the wagering options are pretty much the same as last January when the two sides tangled in Phoenix. Crews were still cleaning up confetti after the Peach and Fiesta Bowls this past weekend when Alabama was installed as a 7 point favorite. The spread has dropped a half at many shops, but BetOnline is still carrying the touchdown line with 51 for the total.

 

Defenses Put Tigers & Tide Into Title Game

That total is way too high if both defenses play like this did this past weekend in the semifinal contests. Alabama (14-0 straight up, 10-4 against the spread) spotted Washington a 7-0 lead in the Peach Bowl, then blanked the Huskies the rest of the way for a 24-7 triumph, covering a closing 13 point spread on the NCAA football odds with the final that fell nearly three touchdowns shy of a 51 point total.

Clemson (13-1 SU, 7-7 ATS) never even allowed Ohio State to get on the scoreboard in a 31-0 whitewashing at the Fiesta Bowl. Closing as 1 point underdogs with 56½ for the scoreboard hurdle, the Tigers held the Buckeyes to just 215 total yards and came away with three turnovers to quash JT Barrett and Company's bid to reach their second CFP title tilt in three years.

So we know what the defenses are capable of, but what about the offenses? It stands to reason that the two quarterbacks, Alabama's Jalen Hurts, and Clemson's Deshaun Watson, will decide that. Hurts at times looked a bit rattled in his first bowl performance, and the freshman never had to get a passing game going for the Tide thanks to Bo Scarbrough's 180 yards rushing, often through would-be Huskies tacklers. Watson was picked off twice by the Buckeyes but still managed to throw for 259 yards and a TD while running for two more scores.

 

Can Tigers Stop 108-Year Losing Streak?

Clemson and Alabama first played each other in 1900, the Tigers winning the first three meetings. The Crimson Tide has rolled ever since, coming out on top of the last 13 matchups beginning in 1909 with Monday's clash the 3rd-straight for the two sides at bowl games. Last year's battle was an instant classic, Alabama throwing up 24 points in the fourth quarter for a 45-40 decision as 6 point chalk, the 50½ point total reached a little more than five minutes into the final period.

A week out from the kickoff, bettors will obviously need to get updates on the weather forecast for the 8 PM (ET) boot on January 9, but right now, it looks pretty good. The weatherman is suggesting cooler temps for the Tampa area than usual, the afternoon high only reaching the upper-60s which mean it'll likely be in the low-60s for the boot. Cloudy skies and a 9-12 mph NE breeze are also in the mix, but no chance for rain.

Last year's barnburner was the result of big plays, three 50+ yard aerials, and scampers from scrimmage plus a long kickoff return. Maybe it's too easy to expect none of that this time with the defenses controlling the outcome, but that's where I'm going with a free college football pick on the 'under.'
 

Free NCAAF pick: Under 51Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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