The best match-up and a dream rematch for all of us CFB fans. BOL everyone
It would be an easy pick if: you believe Clemson were a better team LY,
or the shut-down win over Ohio ST was a true reflection of the Tigers'
capability… jump on taking the points and the ML. The reasons are very
simple: there has not been much (statistically) changed between these
2 teams from LY squads; in addition, the Tigers do have the motivation
edge for a revenge.
However, there are some twists that we need to take a closer look.
I think most of us (if not all) believe Clemson is possibly the
team that have the best chance to beat the Tide. Clemson have a good
defense that peaked at the right time; an explosive and balanced
offense with the best QB under center, a big (6-3/225 lbs.,) reliable,
match-up nightmare in receiver Mike Williams, and a good coaching
staff. If coach Dabo Swinney can keep the players focused, and a few
good calls (or ball bounces) the Tigers could win the game SU.
On the other side, the Tide have been the best team throughout the
season and deservedly so. The defense is dominant, and it's the best
Tide's defense since 2012, the year they blew out Notre Dame in the
NC game. Tide's defense held an explosive Huskies offense (41.8 ppg)
to a mere 7 pts/194 yds, and shut them down in the game last 53
minutes. The Tide offense is also the best in coach Nick Saban era,
averaging 40 ppg, with a true freshman, dual threat QB Jalen Hurts
under center. The biggest concern with the Tide offense is their
great OC Kiffin is no longer with the team. He was (kind of) dismissed
after the semi win over Washington. There is no denial that he has
been instrumental the last 3 years in turning a stagnant and boring
offense into an explosive and fun offense. I don't think anyone
would know the exact impact it may have on the team. Remember
he was also the QB coach and a good one too. Kiffin was also great
in real time adjustments and play calling.
In Tide win vs Washington, I agree that the offensive play calling was
kind of dull, but in hindsight the Tide have done exactly what they
needed to do to beat the Huskies; and that's to eliminate mistake,
run the ball, protect the QB, and play suffocating defense. It's kind
of funny to see so many people (including respected sportswriters)
criticizing the Tide not running the ball enough and passing too much.
It can't be further than the truth. The Tide ran the ball 50 times and
attempted only 14 passes. In those 50 carries, QB Hurts ran 19 times, it's
the safest plays. Should not be discouraged by QB Hurts' poor performance
vs Huskies (7 of 14 for 57 yards) as I can see the Huskies strategy
was to shut down Tide's passing game and kept it a low scoring game.
The Huskies were clearly not stacking the box to shut down Tide's
running game. Coach Petersen might have believed that if he could
keep the Tide from scoring in bunches, his explosive offense (41.8 ppg)
may have a chance later in the game.
My take is I would not trust the Tigers (with so many close games)
to beat the Tide. And there is one factor that I have not seen being
mentioned is the Tigers defense is actually more vulnerable to dual-
threat QBs than the Tide is. QB Watson will have his share of
spotlights and move the ball well, but QB Hurts will also do well
vs Tigers' defense. At the end, Tide's defense will win the game
Picks: Alabama -6 (-110)/Over 50 (-115)