Why Clemson Will Win The College Football Playoff National Championship
– It might sound corny, but it might actually be true. This team appears to be on a mission.
Yeah, yeah, all teams say that, but this version of the Tigers is showing even more of the same fight, the same focus, and the same drive that the Deshaun Watson-led 2016 team had. All of that talent on the defensive front returned for another year for a reason – and it’s playing like it.
The Alabama running game might come in waves, but Clemson is allowing 2.4 yards per carry, giving up just 88 yards to Notre Dame and allowing just one touchdown run since early November.
Star tackle Dexter Lawrence might not be playing, but this Tiger D line is one of the few that can actually do the Next Man Up thing without an issue. It generated eight tackles for loss or more in eight of the last nine games, jumped on Notre Dame’s Ian Book and generated six sacks, should at least bother Tagovailoa just enough to keep him uncomfortable.
– It’s possible to throw on the Crimson Tide secondary. Running on the front three is possible, too. The run D is still amazing by any normal standards, but this year was the first time Bama allowed more than three yards per carry since 2014.
The secondary gave up over 300 yards in the near-miss win over Georgia in the SEC Championship, and got hit for 308 yards and two touchdowns against Kyler Murray and the Sooners. The 19 touchdown passes are the most giving up since, again, 2014.
Basically, this Alabama defense is as good as any in college football – but it’s not otherworldly amazing compared to past Tide versions.
– The Clemson offensive line has seen this Alabama thing before. The Clemson defensive front gets all of the hype, and linemen on either side for Alabama are the glamour boys. But in this game, the underappreciated Tiger O line might turn into the story.
Granted, it wasn’t pretty in last year’s CFP loss to the Tide, but this veteran group has been through the wars, and it’s more than good enough to not just be okay against this D, but beat it.
Veteran left tackle Mitch Hyatt is used to the Bama D line – he’s the one Tiger who made First Team All-ACC. Just about everyone else up front was on the second team. Overall on offense, there’s a strong blend of veterans up front, devastating. weapons among the skill spots, and no fear overall.