January 1, 2018
There is one pick today. Happy New Year!
Take Alabama -3 spread (buy the half point) against Clemson for 3% of the bankroll.
After suffering a loss to end the season in the Iron Bowl, the Alabama Crimson Tide are somewhat fortunate to be playing in this CFP, and we believe that will be an extremely motivating factor. All of the talk and hype this season have been surrounding Kelly Bryant and the Clemson Tigers, but this is Alabama's opportunity to silence the hype and show the world that they are in fact the best team in the nation.
This is the third installment of these two teams meeting in the CFP, with each holding a National Title win over the other. The Tigers managed to beat the Crimson Tide on the final play of the game in the National Title game a season ago and you can believe that hasn't gotten lost on head coach Nick Saban. Saban is arguably the best coach in college football history and he has to be relishing in the thought of avenging last season's loss. Saban is 10-2 in revenge games versus teams that beat them in the prior season. A lot of people have been talking about how Alabama may have lost a step this season and that they have not appeared as dominant as in year's past. Injuries has plagued Alabama this season and may be been a reason for some of their regression, however, Nick Saban has had 29 days to not only get his team healthy, but also gameplan against this Clemson team and their first-year quarterback. Given that amount of time, there is no question that Saban will have his team ready.
Kelly Bryant has been spectacular in stepping out of the shadow of Deshaun Watson, however, he is not Deshaun Watson. Watson was able to gash the Tide's defense with his arm the last two seasons, however, Bryant has struggled at times throwing the ball. He is compeletely less than 25% of his passes of over 15 yards, and against the best defense he has seen this season, he will need to make those passes to win this game. Saban will likley gameplan against the ground game and force Bryant to beat them through the air. We are not sure he will be able to do that, especially with this being the biggest stage that he has played on this season. There is no discount for experience and there is no question that Alabama will have the experience edge in this contest.
Jalen Hurts will be an X-factor in this matchup. There has not been a lot of talk about Hurts this season, but he has drastically improved from a season ago. He has become a much better passer and has proven to be at his best when under pressure on the big stage. He completely took over the offense a season ago in the chamionship game, leading his team on the go-ahead drive late in the 4th quarter. He is dangerous with his legs, but has also shown he can beat teams through the air. The Clemson pass rush is as good as it gets, however, if they over-commit and Hurts is able to break contain, he can certainly move the chains with his legs. Whichever team can establish the more balanced offensive attack will hold the advantage and we believe that will be the Tide.
It's not too often that you see the reigning National Champions as underdogs, but it is also not too often you see the Tide as just a field goal favorite either. The fact that Clemson is an underdog is a very telling statement. People have been high on Clemson all season long, however, with there being so much time in between each team's last game, all momentum has been halted. With that being the case, we believe Alabama is the more fundamentally sound team on both sides of the ball. They are bruising and methodical and have the personnel to wear teams down. Both defense will keep their teams in the game early on, however, we expect Alabama to find their rhythm in the second half and force Kelly Bryant into some bad decisions. Alabama comes away with a couple of late scores to come away with the win and cover.
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