Teams & Conferences

College Football Playoff National Championship: Alabama vs. Clemson, Early Analysis, Quick Prediction

College Football Playoff National Championship: Alabama vs. Clemson – Early Analysis & Quick Prediction


It’s a rematch for the national championship with Alabama taking on Clemson in Tampa. Can this be as good as the classic in Glendale to end last season? What’s the knee-jerk prediction on the College Football Playoff National Championship?


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2017-ncFull disclosure. I’ve eaten nothing but Chick-fil-A and Krispy Kremes for six straight days, and I’ve somehow gained 14 pounds. I’d also like to go drink with a bunch of men in corporate-logoed pullovers to celebrate my New Year’s in style in Atlanta.

I’m not really of sound mind, and I’m definitely not of sound body.

But I’m a believer in going with your first answers to things, so with the rematch coming between Clemson and Alabama for the College Football Playoff National Championship, and before the rest of the world bores you with minutiae, here’s everything that really matters.

Deshaun Watson is a real quarterback

Jake Browning is sort of a real quarterback, but it became obvious after that first drive in the Peach Bowl – sorry, I can’t even write the words Chick and fil and A together at this point without my cholesterol going up – that Washington just wasn’t going to ever move the ball on the Crimson Tide defensive front.

Watson will be the story.

His performance against the Crimson Tide last year was legendary in defeat, and now he’ll be expected to repeat that, and more. He’s the best quarterback Alabama has faced this year by far, and this is the best team it’s faced by a long shot. However …

Deshaun Watson will give up interceptions

The question will be whether or not Alabama turns those interceptions into their killer NOTs – non-offensive touchdowns.

Washington was still sort of in the Peach with 1:30 to play in the first half and only down 10-7. All it had to do was not turn it over, it did, Alabama’s D scored, 17-7, on to Tampa.

Wayne Gallman will be stuffed, and Watson will press. Alabama will get those picks, but they can’t be pick-sixes or else Clemson is done. Watson needs to be brilliant and fearless, but he’s also going to need to be patient.

Jalen Hurts will give up turnovers

Washington ALMOST turned the game around on a rolling Hurts fumble, but Alabama recovered and everything kept on rolling along. The NOTs are the deathblow, but the Tigers are able to produce takeaways, too.

They have the combination of size, speed, and athleticism to create their own big plays when Hurts has to throw – it’s sort of lost in the shuffle, but bad things were happening when the Crimson Tide stopped running the ball against the Huskies. Clemson’s defense, when it’s on like it was against Ohio State, can be every bit as effective as Alabama’s.

A better college football team beats Alabama in the Peach Bowl

Washington was plucky. It gave the college try, but it wasn’t going to win that game. However, the defense balled out before finally breaking against Bo Scarbrough and the Bama ground game. The offense had a few chances, but couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities.

Alabama loses in Tampa if it plays like it did in Atlanta.

Clemson was simply the more talented team than Ohio State, and it might just be every bit as good as Alabama – it’s just not as bulky.

Clemson has the better quarterback. It has slightly better receivers. It has NFL defensive linemen, NFL running backs, and an opportunistic back seven that can take away just about everything Alabama will want to do down the field – even if it couldn’t do it in last season’s championship.

This is a Tiger team building and working towards this for a year, expecting to get that one shot again. It’s not going to be fazed by the spotlight and the pressure.

Or will it? Will everyone spend the next week overthinking this?

Maybe the 2016 college football season really is just that boring and Alabama will go the entire year virtually unchallenged.

Maybe we’ll come up with real reasons why Clemson is going to win, and then it’s 24-0 Crimson Tide 11 minutes in after two pick-sixes.

Clemson won’t be able to do the “no one believes in us” thing, because lots and lots of people are going to believe that 1991 Duke is about to beat UNLV – at least early on.

It would’ve been an all-time shocker if Washington beat Alabama, but it wouldn’t be even a little bit stunning if Clemson wins this, especially if the Fighting Dabos come up with another performance like they did against Ohio State. However, again, maybe it’s about not thinking and just throwing.

Clemson is fantastic, but Alabama might be all-timer awesome. If it doesn’t turn out to be the right pick, you’re never wrong to take the Crimson Tide in the national title.

So, the first-guess, it’s exactly 10 pm EST on New Year’s and I’m about to head out, 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship prediction is …

A major caveat here – I reserve the right to change this and go really, really hard the other way once I hit Tampa and get the vibe.

I did that two years ago. I fell for the hot Oregon team in my original prediction, got to Dallas, saw and heard just how tight and terse the Ducks were, saw and heard just how relaxed Urban Meyer and Ohio State was – and he explained out in detail how the Buckeyes were going to win – and I tried to yell and scream that it would be an OSU blowout.

With that said, and with that disclaimer, your national championship will be …

Clemson 27, Alabama 23