We’re just a few days away from Monday night’s national championship game between Alabama and Clemson. There isn’t quite the buzz for this game that there has been in seasons past, as aftermarket tickets are coming down as low as $250 for this game. There could be rematch fatigue; there could also be the cost of traveling from the Southeast all the way to the Bay Area, as the game is in Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. Both of these teams are loaded in talent, and the results of the College Football Playoff semifinals, in which both teams rolled to wins with relative ease over the third- and fourth-ranked teams in the nation, showed us that, once again, these are the nation’s two best teams. The moneylines on this game opened at Alabama (-240) and Clemson (+200), although those have slid the Tigers’ way as far as Alabama (-200) and Clemson (+170), depending on the book you look at. What should straight up NCAAF betting enthusiasts choose for this game? We have your prediction for the 2019 National Championship.
2019 National Championship SU Betting Prediction
It’s the Bay Area.
It’s the #NationalChampionship
You ready?! pic.twitter.com/fsFpj9eEnQ
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) 4 de enero de 2019
Why should you lean toward Alabama?
That defensive line is going to give Clemson fits on both the run and the bass. Nose guard Quinnen Williams may be the toughest player to block in the nation, and he will clog up the Tigers’ running game and get some interior pass pressure on Trevor Lawrence when he drops back to pass. It’s hard to set up a pocket when the top of the pocket is constantly moving back.
Tua Tagovailoa has been here before and won on the game’s biggest stage — and he did it coming off the bench. He had to come in at halftime of last year’s national championship and lead a comeback against Georgia as a true freshman, and all he did was get the game to overtime and then win the whole thing on an audacious bomb.
There’s also Tagovailoa’s accuracy to consider. He can throw the ball down the field — and down the field with precision. This isn’t an offense that moves thanks to jump balls that the Tide receivers go up and win; his throws go through tight windows and find receivers on the other end.
Alabama will also benefit from the likely absence of Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who is looking at a year-long suspension due to failing a banned substances test. He already missed the Notre Dame game (with minimal impact on the Clemson defense). While Clemson has considerable depth, missing Lawrence means that Clemson will have a weaker link in their starting lineup, and Alabama should take advantage.
Why should you lean toward Clemson?
Clemson’s Achilles heel on defense has been their secondary, but they shut down Notre Dame in the national semifinal. It’s true that Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith have more speed than the Irish’s wide receivers, but it’s also true that Clemson’s back four have stepped up their game.
Trevor Lawrence is also a dual threat quarterback, but not quite the same type as Kyler Murray, who got things going after the first quarter (and when Alabama was already up 28 points). He can move efficiently, shifting the pocket and avoiding pass rushers, and he is deceptively fast on zone-read keepers and then on scrambles when plays break down. Remember, Alabama has permitted 62 points in their last two games, and Clemson should find room to score.
There’s also the case of Christian Wilkins. With Lawrence likely to miss the game (and as of this writing, no ruling on the appeal of his suspension has come down), Wilkins is the best defensive lineman the Tigers will play. Alabama will get to double-team him with Lawrence out, but I still expect him to disrupt plays and possibly even end up with a crucial turnover.
As much buzz as Tagovailoa gets, he’s not as good when he’s playing an elite defense. Is numbers dwindled against LSU, Mississippi State and Georgia, and while his ankle is said to be healthy, that was an awfully quick rehab process, and one wonders how many big hits he will be able to absorb from Clemson, who sacked Ian Book six times in the semifinal.
Final Score Prediction: Clemson 34, Alabama 31