After two convincing wins in the first round of the College Football Playoffs on New Year’s Eve, Alabama and Clemson will battle it out for the National Title for the second year in a row.
Entering Saturday, all four teams looked like they had a shot to win it all. Many saw Washington actually giving ‘Bama a tough test and everyone believed that the Clemson and Ohio State game would certainly come down to the wire. None of it came to fruition, and in fact, the outcomes were the exact opposite of what we thought would transpire.
This irony brings us to this epic rematch between a juggernaut looking to further its national dynasty and a team hungry to exact they revenge and to put a wrench in another Alabama dream season.
Last season’s encounter was one for the ages, a high scoring affair with thrills at every turn that had you on the edge of your seat. If last year’s matchup is any indication of what will happen come Monday night, then we are in for one of the greatest championship games in college football history.
Alabama is once again reloaded and clicking on all cylinders. Offense, defense, and special teams, all coming together and tuning like a well-oiled machine, dismantling their opponents all season with their latest victim being Washington last week. Their defense is once again all time great and with the resurgence of a dominant ground attack, Clemson will have their hands full.
A chink the Crimson Tide armor may not have anything to do with who’s playing on the field. With the announcement of the “mutual agreement” between the program and Lane Kiffin, Kiffin has been released of his duties as Alabama’s offensive coordinator in order to focus on his new head coaching job at Florida Atlantic University. Replacing him will be Steve Sarkisian, an established coach and coordinator in the college football ranks, but new to this Alabama offense and players. This sudden change could give the stout Clemson defense an advantage as Alabama and Sarkisian will only have a week to get fully acclimated in time for the biggest game of the year.
On the Clemson side, they are rearing to go and are in no way intimidated by the Crimson Tide.
They came close to beating them and being crowned national champions last year and after some tough early tests this season, are back, better than ever, and primed to face the Crimson Tide whom they are very familiar with.
DeShaun Watson, who broke out last season, and had his best game versus ‘Bama in the title game last year, is a year better, a year more experienced and a year removed from heartbreak. Watson will be even more of a handful this go around as his pocket presence and passing has improved which means that he hasn’t had to use his legs as much this year. Coming into Monday, Watson will be fresh and ready to roll whether through the air or on the ground. Playing this ‘Bama defense, we should expect much more use if his running ability to open up some passing lanes down the field.
The Clemson defense has been swarming opponents all season, especially recent weeks, just ask Ohio State who they blanked 31-0 last week.
Their run defense will need to be big as the Alabama ground game has picked up and although there are no Derrick Henry’s in the backfield, there are multiple guys who can gash a defense at any moment.
My prediction: Clemson edges out Alabama 31-28 on a last second field goal.
Who do you think will win the National Championship? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3