The 2018-19 college football season is just a couple of days away from its climax, as Alabama and Clemson, the top two seeds in the College Football Playoff, are set to square off in the national championship, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Alabama ran out to a 28-0 lead and held on for a 45-34 win over Oklahoma in their semifinal, while Clemson routed Notre Dame from the get-go, rolling to a 30-3 win in their semifinal. So while there may be some fatigue at seeing Alabama and Clemson square off once again, it’s almost impossible to argue that these two are not the best teams in the nation. The point spread for this game opened at Alabama -6.5 and has slid as low as Alabama -5, depending on which book you look at. If you’re planning your NCAAF betting for this game against the spread, which team should you choose? We’ve got you covered with our advice in this preview of the 2019 National Championship.
2019 National Championship ATS Betting Prediction
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) 3 de enero de 2019
Why should you lean toward Alabama?
Tua Tagovailoa is the biggest difference-maker for Alabama, and that’s saying a lot, given the terrific talent the Tide has at all positions. He already has some huge skins on the wall, beginning with his legendary performance in this game a year ago, when he came off the bench in the second half and led a comeback that would reach its climax when he completed a long touchdown pass in overtime to deny Georgia the national championship. He has completed 13 pass plays for more than 50 yards this season. He can throw down the field — and down the field into tight windows. That’s going to be a challenge for Clemson’s secondary.
On the other side of the ball, Quinnen Williams could be the biggest difference-maker. He’s the anchor of that defensive line at nose guard, and he might be the nation’s hardest man to block. He gets pressure up the middle against the pass, and he blocks holes when opponents try to run. The Tigers have a terrific offensive line, but they haven’t seen many people like Williams all season long.
What will Alabama be able to do against Clemson’s defense? Their back four have given up big plays this season, and their front seven — possibly the best in the nation — will be missing tackle Dexter Lawrence, who failed a substance test and is right now out for the game. Given that we are into Friday and the game is Monday, it is unlikely that his appeal will get a ruling before the game, and that link out of the Clemson chain is a huge blow.
Why should you lean toward Clemson?
One of the more encouraging signs for the Tigers in their semifinal win over Notre Dame was improved secondary play. Irish quarterback Ian Book had shown elite skills at throwing the ball down the field, but the combination of a ferocious pass rush and tight coverage kept him from being able to do that. Now the Tigers have a new challenge: keeping that same coverage against a faster receiving duo for Alabama.
Trevor Lawrence enters this title game as a true freshman, but the lesson from last year is that we shouldn’t assume that a true freshman will show nerves in a game like this. Instead, we see that Lawrence put up quality numbers in the win over Notre Dame. Despite the fact that he is 6’6”, Lawrence is quick enough to get big runs when he keeps on the zone-read, and he is also quick enough to scramble for first downs when protection breaks down.
Tagovailoa’s production has dropped (as one would expect) when he faces elite defenses. That happened against Georgia, and it also happened against Mississippi State and LSU. He did have ankle issues in each of those three games, and it’s hard to imagine that his ankle wouldn’t have more problems if he has to scramble for his life in this game and takes some significant contact.
Remember this — Alabama has given up 62 points in their last two games. Clemson’s offense is as good as Georgia’s, and it is steadier than Oklahoma’s. The hype for Alabama is deserved, but Clemson is peaking at just the right time.
Final Score Prediction: Clemson 34, Alabama 31