The final thoughts, a few predictions, and some investment advice for the College Football Playoff National Championship to make your life a heck of a lot better than it currently is.
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Bad setting, bad crowd interest, potentially amazing game. It’s the College Football Playoff National Championship: Alabama-Clemson IV. It should be fantastic.
By the way, tonight, I’m doing my annual Stream of Consciousness Game Notes as the thing is going on.
– Last year’s Georgia vs. Alabama Stream of Consciousness Game Notes
This is all just for spits, giggles, and entertainment purposes only. However, just in case you dabble …
Start with this. The game is going to be historically great with one of the best endings for anything since time began. And why? Because for the first time in several years, I’m not at the national title game. If I was able to make it this season, 42-3 final. Guaranteed.
It’s supposed to be around the mid-50s with the potential for rain. The weather shouldn’t be a factor, but it’s not going to be hot. The mugginess won’t be a factor like it was in the Orange Bowl – I was there; it was swampy. The cooler temperatures should actually be a plus.
The Clemson defensive line is going to be the story. Yes, it stinks that Dexter Lawrence isn’t playing. No, Clemson isn’t going to take too big a hit because of it. Yes, there are NFL-caliber players to fill in the gaps. No, none of them are as close to as good as Lawrence.
Christian Wilkins is terrific, Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell are going to be outstanding on the ends, and Albert Huggins will be just fine on the inside in place of Lawrence. This group has been on a mission all season long, and it’s going to show.
Can Alabama get hot early? The Crimson Tide have been brilliant all season long at getting up right away so far that they’re able to take their foot off the gas and coast the rest of the way. Things got a wee bit too dicey against Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Orange, and Bama learned from it. Watch for the O to go full-throttle for 60 minutes if it’s able to get a lead.
Don’t worry about Trevor Lawrence. Remember, just like Jake Fromm in last season’s national championship, these freshmen don’t get fazed. Lawrence will be under pressure – that’s nothing new. Notre Dame was able to get to him, and he still lit up the Irish secondary like a Christmas tree. This is an NFL quarterback who’ll be just fine in the setting and in the moment.
The biggest underappreciated aspect of this game? The Clemson offensive line. It’s not going to just hold its own against Bama; it’ll take over for stretches. Travis Etienne might not come up with his normal home runs, but he’ll have enough room to be productive.
Of course, the most fun part of tonight will be the Bama O line vs. the Clemson D line. That’s NFL on NFL talent across the board. Bama can’t count on grinding out drives on this group, even though it’ll try to establish the run from the start. No … this game is on one guy.
It’s Tua Tagovailoa’s national championship to win. Clemson needs a full team game to pull this off, and Trevor Lawrence is a part of it. Tagovailoa has to be brilliant, and for anyone who saw what South Carolina and Jake Bentley did to this Tiger secondary, there’s reason to be more than a little bit freaked out.
Okay … let’s dive in … Prop bet time, here are the most interesting ones, and then I’ll dive into what’s actually going to happen.
Who scores first? It’s Alabama -150 and Clemson at +120. Alabama is the call, but on coin-flip props like this, I’m a bigger fan of going for the payoff. Clemson +120.
Alabama -3 in the first half. Yeah, it’s not bad considering the Crimson Tide are great at getting out to a hot start. I’ll go with it – Bama -3.
First Half. Over/under total points 29. Under, under, under, under, UNDER.
Alabama total points. 31.5. UNDER. With these defenses, take the chance that this won’t be a firefight.
Will there be a touchdown of 55 yards or longer? Yes -120, No +100. It’s asking a LOT to get a 55-yard score. No +120.
Margin of victory. Alabama +325 to win by 1-6 points is the safest pick. In terms of value – Clemson 7-12 points +700 is strong, and +400 isn’t bad 1-6. Basically, go with the team you think will win, and go hard on the 1-6.
Okay, enough silliness … here’s how this plays out.
I’ll be shocked if it’ll be a shootout. I’m hoping these two offenses go off, and the weapons are certainly there, but sort of like last year’s national title game between Georgia and Alabama, watch out for a lower-scoring slugfest – at least for a while.
Envisioning this, Alabama is frustrated. It can’t get the O going, there are too many stalled drives, and Tagovailoa is fine, but won’t put enough points on the board early. However, Clemson won’t be able to take advantage. Get ready for the thought of, “Clemson has owned this game, but hasn’t put it away.”
Two second half drives. Bama wakes up just enough to go on two touchdown marches in the second half to take over, and then the D does the rest. In the end, it’ll be a stretch when Tagovailoa goes 10-for-11 with two touchdowns, and that will be just enough.
The +175 isn’t enough to dive in with Clemson on the money line. But, as always, if you like the underdog to win in this – and it’s hardly a crazy call – get something extra out of it.
I despise doing this, but … Alabama to win, but not to cover. Call it being a wee bit shellshocked by Bama not covering the last few times in national title games. Clemson could absolutely win this, so … (hold nose) Clemson +5.5.