The two best college football programs for the past 3 seasons throw down at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ on Monday, January 7 in the 2019 College Football National Championship betting finale that we’ve all been anxiously waiting for. This is the fourth time in five seasons that Clemson will challenge the monolith that is Alabama.

In their first encounter in the new playoff format, Alabama rode Derrick Henry’s three touchdowns to outlast Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson’s four passing scores in a thrilling 45-40 victory.

In 2017, the #2 Clemson Tigers used one of the very best performances by a single player in the history of NCAAF National Championship games to beat the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31. The incomparable Deshaun Watson put the Tigers on his back when he threw for 403 yards and 3 touchdowns, and rushed for 43 yards and another TD.

Last season, the Tide returned the favor when demolishing Clemson 24-6 in the College Football Playoff Semifinals. In that game, Alabama’s defense picked off Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant twice while holding the Tigers to 188 total yards.

Clemson returns to the fourth game in the cross-conference rivalry with a different quarterback, freshman Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence took over as Clemson’s starter early in the season. He played well in Clemson’s 30-3 win over #3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl CFP Semifinal.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP BETTING
#2 Clemson Tigers vs #1 Alabama Crimson Tide  
Monday, January 7th – State Farm Stadium – 8:00pm ET
Odds: Alabama -5.5 (59.5)

In the Orange Bowl CFP Semifinal, the Crimson Tide beat #4 Oklahoma 45-34. Alabama jumped out to a big 28-0 lead before Oklahoma got on the board. The Sooners tried to rally, but failed short against the only team to hold the #1 ranking in any of the polls this season.

Will the Tide or the Tigers step it up in a game between the two unquestioned best teams in the nation?

Can Tigers Contain Tua?

After suffering a high-ankle sprain in the SEC Championship, there was some doubt as to whether Tua Tagovailoa might play in the semifinal win over Oklahoma. However, Tagovailoa underwent surgery for a a high-ankle sprain and stepped onto the field with no issues.

The Heisman Trophy runner-up was sensational versus the Sooners. He completed 24-of-27 for 318 yards and 4 TD passes. Tagovaila answered the bell in every way imaginable. If anything, he looked more mobile than he did before hurting the ankle.

Clemson’s biggest issue on defense is going to be getting to Alabama’s fantastic quarterback. To disrupt Tagovailoa’s process, they must pressure without committing too hard and too fast.

Flushing Tua won’t work because he’s mobile enough to scoot away and make passes on the run. He also never panics. Clemson must contain while applying pressure. That won’t be easy, even though Clemson made short work of Notre Dame’s front line in the semi-final. Alabama’s offensive line is not perfect, but it is amongst the very best in the country and is built outright to limit Clemson’s tactics.

If Clemson can disrupt Tagovailoa, they could force Tagovailoa into bad decisions or stump the Crimson Tide quarterback. That’s the Tigers’ only chance of beating Bama.

Bama’s a Cliché: They Can Only Beat Themselves

One of the most popular football clichés is that a team is so great that the only other team that can beat them are themselves. Few gridiron teams live up to the cliché. One team that has are the 2018 Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama started the season ranked first in the nation. No other team ranked first in any week during the regular season. Only rival Georgia even challenged the Crimson Tide in any game.

Even though Oklahoma got within 11 points, Bama was never in any danger of losing the Orange Bowl. Bama’s so good that the defense held the top scoring team in the nation, one led by a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, to 34 points. To non-college football fans, that seems like a high number, but considering that Oklahoma had scored an average of 48.4 throughout the year, it says a lot about Alabama’s ability to mitigate damage.

But, the defense isn’t why Bama’s been unbeatable this season. It’s Tua Tagovailoa and the offense that’s made the Crimson Tide so great. It’s almost impossible to stop Alabama from scoring at will when everyone’s paying attention to football, and that’s why Alabama’s probably not in any real danger of losing on Monday night unless – well – they beat themselves.

2019 College Football National Championship Betting Analysis

The initial line for the game was ALA -6.5, but that has fallen down by a point in the lead-up.

The trends give both teams a shot. Alabama is 7-2 ATS in their last 9 versus the ACC and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous. Clemson is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 neutral site games and 8-1 ATS in their last 9 bowl games.

The Tigers are also 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games, though. More importantly, Clemson must pressure the best quarterback in the nation and it’s hard to see them doing that without Dexter Lawrence. Alabama wins, covers and is crowned champion yet again.

2019 College Football National Championship Betting Free Pick: Alabama -5.5

Read James Scully’s thoughts on the National Championship game

 

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