College Football Playoff National Championship: Three Reasons Why Clemson Will Win
Three reasons why Clemson will win the College Football Playoff National Championship over Alabama.
Date: Monday, January 9th
Game Time: 8:30 pm
Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
– Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak
Here’s Why Clemson Will Win The College Football Playoff National Championship
As a team, Clemson was terrific in last season’s College Football Playoff National Championship, so it’s not fair to call it the Deshaun Watson game.
But it was the Deshaun Watson game.
Against an impenetrable Alabama defense, Watson picked a perfect time to come up with his best performance of the season throwing for 405 yards and four scores with 73 more on the ground.
In theory, Alabama should be figure out how to adjust and get to Watson. Then again, a year after torching the Tide, Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly followed it up with a 421-yard, three-score day in the shootout loss earlier this year.
Johnny Manziel became Johnny Football with his performance in Texas A&M’s 2012 win, and was even more amazing the year after with 464 yards and five touchdown passes – with 98 rushing yards – in the wild loss.
In other words, fantastic college quarterbacks aren’t always shut down by the Nick Saban D just because it prepares a little harder.
Don’t blow off the idea that Clemson could win because it might have the best college football player on the field.
Yeah, Watson will throw a pick here and there, but he’ll also keep pushing and pushing and pushing the Alabama secondary like it hasn’t been since Kelly and Ole Miss fired away.
This is the game and the moment Watson has been waiting for. He’ll be fantastic.
The Alabama run defense is special, but …
Clemson’s defensive front can get after it, too.
The Tigers have an NFL defensive front four, starting with the tackle combination of Carlos Watkins and Dexter Lawrence, and flanked by the pass rushing duo of Christian Wilkins and Fiesta star Clelein Ferrell.
As amazing and powerful as the Alabama offensive line is, it gives up plays behind the line. Part of it is because QB Jalen Hurts runs so much, and part of it is because the O line can get hit from time to time by good defensive fronts – and Clemson’s is the best the Tide have faced.
The Tigers have been dominant this season up front, finishing second in the nation in tackles for loss, coming up with 123 on the year with the pressure coming from all angles.
Wilkins, Watkins and Ferrell all came up with double-digits plays behind the line, and Lawrence was second on the team with 6.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss.
This group will win its share of battles and should create plenty of negative plays.
Jalen Hurts hasn’t thrown well against elite secondaries.
The Alabama passing game has been fine, but it’s been inconsistent.
LSU’s secondary is loaded with future NFL starters, and it showed – Hurts only threw for 107 yards with a pick and no touchdown passes. There wasn’t anything happening down the field.
Washington has pros in the secondary, too, and it dominated in Atlanta. Hurts hit just 7-of-14 throws for 57 yards with no touchdowns.
How good has the Clemson defensive backfield been? Helped by the killer pass rush, it came up with 20 interceptions, allowed just 12 touchdown passes – five of them to Pitt – and almost always makes up for any bad moments with a big, game-changing play. Hurts has to be very, very careful – he can’t force anything against this group.