College Football Playoff Preview – Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Clemson Tigers
So it will all come down to this – the Alabama Crimson Tide, which, by virtue of its defensive performance all year long, punctuated by its dominant effort against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, is the immovable object, while the Clemson Tigers, undefeated through 14 games and with at least 500 yards of offense in each of their last ten, are the irresistible force. These clubs play it off with everything on the line on Monday night at 8:30 PM ET at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. And if you are a BetAnySports customer, you can get reduced juice before the game and don’t have to stop even after the opening kickoff, because you can continue to participate in the thrills of wagering while the game progresses through the facilities of Live Betting Extra.
This game presents an interesting matchup of quarterbacks. Deshaun Watson, who has made a nice comeback from knee surgery this season, is known as a “dual-threat,” with 31 touchdown passes and 1028 rushing yards. He was one of three players invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. Jake Coker, the Florida State transfer who calls the signals for Alabama, is more of a dropback type, and he seems to be coming around right now, with a sterling performance against Michigan State in the national semi-final, completing 25 out of 30 passes for 286 yards, and he has a main target who is hard to cover in freshman Calvin Ridley, who had 138 yards and two touchdowns against the Spartans eleven days ago.
Oh, and did we mention that Alabama has a Heisman Trophy winner in the backfield? Of course, that’s Derrick Henry, who now has 2061 yards on the ground, with 25 touchdowns. Lane Kiffin, who has had a controversial career, is nonetheless a highly effective offensive coordinator, and he has done wonders in two years on the staff of Nick Saban, who is going for his fifth national championship here.
In the College Football Playoff odds posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, with reduced juice attached, Alabama is favored:
Alabama Crimson Tide -6.5 (-112)
Clemson Tigers +6.5 (+102)
Over 50.5 points -105
Under 50.5 points -105
The objective for Watson is to keep Alabama’s defense guessing. He can do that by effectively working the read-option, in which he can run with the ball or hand it off to his halfback, Wayne Gallman, who was outstanding with 1469 yards to date. They have enough depth to show Alabama some multiple-receiver sets as well, and while they may lack the big-play threat with Deon Cain suspended for this game, they have reliable targets with the likes of Artavis Scott and Charone Peake on the outside, with Jordan Leggett at tight end. Scott was the leading receiver with 89 catches, but he is more of a possession type, averaging slightly less than 10 yards per reception.
What the Tigers really have to manage is the superior defensive speed and depth on the Alabama side. These guys permitted only 2.3 yards per carry on the season, and they got tougher as things progressed. BetAnySports patrons who were able to watch the SEC championship game against Florida, then the Cotton Bowl, saw them allow a total of 44 net rushing yards in those two games. And in the 3-4 alignment, their pass rushers are very prolific, having registered 50 sacks on the year. No one does it better from that standpoint.
It would be fair to say that Watson has more escapability then Coker, as the Alabama quarterback is more stationary and will probably try to get rid of the ball on quick passes more often than not. Expect that two talented defensive ends, Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, will exert as much pressure as possible, but also recognize that Cam Robinson, the left tackle for the Crimson Tide, is one of the best in the country. In point of fact, Alabama has allowed only four sacks over their last five games.
In the end, Alabama has the best running back on the field, and probably the best receiver in Calvin Ridley, who recently broke Amari Cooper’s freshman record for receiving yards at the school. Their defense is the best unit in this game as well, and they have the added element of Cyrus Jones, who has taken four punts back for touchdowns. Sprinkle in the championship experience of Saban, and all of that is going to present a package that will be very tough to beat, even considering the posted number.
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