NCAAF Picks: Better Defense & Balanced Offense Favor Alabama Against Clemson

Joe Gavazzi

Monday, January 11, 2016 7:22 PM GMT

Monday, Jan. 11, 2016 7:22 PM GMT

The National Championship Game is finally happening tonight as the College Football Regular Season comes to an end. Who will be our college football pick for this matchup? Find out!

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Free College Football Pick: Alabama -230
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

 

Clemson vs. Alabama (-6-/50-) 8:30 ET ESPN…Alabama (-6-/50-)
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Clemson and Alabama face off at 8:30 ET Monday night in the University of Phoenix Stadium at Glendale, AZ. The game will be televised by ESPN. You have already been inundated with details and opinions from every media source available and your choice of internet handicappers. To be honest, no outcome would surprise me in this game, including a Clemson outright victory or an Alabama blowout. In my opinion, however, the strength of the evidence points us toward the percentage pointspread side being the Alabama Crimson Tide.

 

Clemson Tigers
The vast majority of prognosticators would be lying to you if they said they believed that Clemson would be playing in this National Title game. The Tigers had just 3 RS to their outstanding defense of recent years. To record their final defensive stats, which saw them allow just 20 PPG and 302 total yards, including 125/3.6 overland, would have been a bit of a surprise. That certainly is not true on the offensive side of the ball. Despite the loss of highly-acclaimed OC Morris (who took the SMU job), QB Watson (a Heisman Trophy candidate) led the explosive Clemson attack to 38/512 with a balanced offense that ran for 228/5.0. It is a mobile, dual threat signal caller, such as Watson, who tossed 31 TDP and averaged over 100 RYPG that has caused problems for the Alabama defense over the years. The Tigers were at their best in their Bowl Game against Oklahoma. It was a (37-17) victory, as 4 point underdog. The trailed the avenging Sooners 17-16 at the half, but dominated the 2nd half overland. When the game concluded, the Tigers had rushed for 312 yards and nearly quadrupled the Sooners’ overland output. That victory means that in the last 3 seasons, Clemson is now 4-0 SU ATS as Bowl underdog, including victories over LSU, Ohio St. and Oklahoma (twice). It is hard to refute the point that HC Dabo Swinney is at his best when motivating and coaching his Tigers in big games. Unfortunately for Tiger backers, there is also evidence that Clemson was not playing their best ball to conclude the season. Maybe it was the pressure of being No. 1, or maybe it was a weak strength of schedule which failed to motivate them! Whatever the case, following their (23-13) victory against Florida St. on November 7th, the Tigers underachieved down the stretch, allowing sub.500 teams to come in under the number, while allowing an average of 24 PPG to Syracuse, Wake Forest and S. Carolina. Even in their ACC Playoff victory, in which they rolled up 608 yards in a (45-37) win vs. N. Carolina, they still allowed the Tar Heels to score 37 points. A defensive performance like any of those 4 will lead to death in the desert for these Tigers.

 

Alabama Crimson Tide
For there is little evidence to assume that Alabama will play anything less than an outstanding game with an offense that is now balanced and a defense that is the best in the land. Following their (43-37) home loss to Mississippi on September 19th (they outgained the Rebels 503-433, but were -5 in the net TO column), the Crimson Tide rolled the rest of their schedule, ripping off 11 consecutive victories leading to this Title Game. Those victories included SEC wins against Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi St., Auburn and Florida (all Bowl teams) by 13 or more points. That led to the pinnacle of their success with a (38-0) victory vs. Michigan St. as 10 point favorite. In that win, they won the battle of the yardage 440-239 with a 6.7 to 3.7 YP play edge. They also held the Spartans’ running game to 29/1.1 YPR. This culminated a season in which they had the best defensive stats in the nation, allowing just 13/257, including 71/2.3 YPR. In that victory vs. the Spartans, the Tide proved they were not a “one trick pony.” QB Coker stepped up with a 25/30/286 game, while RB Henry proved he deserved his Heisman Trophy. Note that 10/13 of their victories came against a rugged schedule of either SEC or Big 10 teams. Speaking of the SEC, did you notice that when the smoke cleared, these teams had gone 8-2 SU ATS in their Bowl Games? But, no analysis of the Crimson Tide would be complete without a mention of HC Saban, their passionate and intense leader, who demands perfection from his team. While counterpart Swinney allows his Tigers to have fun and dance, Saban has created a blue collar work ethic for the No. 1 CFB program in the land. At Alabama, Saban is 6-3 SU ATS in Bowls. He is now 4-0 SU ATS in Title Games, including his victory at LSU. Tonight, he leads the Crimson Tide to what I believe will be his 4thNational Title in the last 7 years.

Too much evidence favoring Alabama, who has the better defense and equally balanced offense, the SEC pedigree and of course, Nick Saban on the sidelines! I invite you to put the college football odds in your favor and join me with my college football pick on Alabama.

***Don't Miss Our Expert's Final Thoughts On Alabama vs. Clemson***

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