By Charles Jay
The Clemson Tigers moved to the football like very few programs have in recent years when they played the Alabama Crimson Tide in last year’s national championship game. But after 550 yards of total offense, they came up short, losing 45-40. This season they hope to write a different script, and they appear to have the ammunition to do so. The question is executing, and avoiding mistakes. This game will begin at 8 PM ET at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. And BetAnySports customers will have the opportunity, even after the opening kickoff, to engage in real-time wagering through the state-of-the-art software from Live Betting Ultra.
At the heart of what Clemson does is the quarterback. Deshaun Watson has thrown for over 4000 yards this season, and he’s got 582 yards rushing. He is a dual threat to the extent that he was a runner-up to Lamar Jackson in this year’s Heisman Trophy voting. But in the process of taking chances throwing the ball downfield, he has also been somewhat prone to mistakes. Watson has thrown 17 interceptions, and as we know, Alabama has a penchant for being able to convert their opponents’ mistakes into touchdowns. They have the ungodly total of 11 defensive touchdowns this season, and on top of that they are the nation’s top defense statistically. Of course, they were in roughly the same place last year when these teams met.
In the NCAA national championship odds at BetAnySports, ‘Bama is favored:
Alabama Crimson Tide -6.5
Clemson Tigers +6.5
Over 51 points -110
Under 51 points -110
We know that Alabama always has talent in the secondary, but they are not likely to get many more severe tests then they will on Monday night. Watson has a slew of effective receivers, and that includes short-range options like Artavis Scott, in addition to longer-range options like Jordan Leggett (almost 17 yards a catch) and Deon Cain, who was suspended for last year’s championship game but needs to be accounted for, as he has averaged over 19 yards per reception. And we save the best for last – Mike Williams has caught 91 passes, with 10 TD’s, and you will hear his name called, in all likelihood, in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft, possibly as the first wide receiver taken. We know that Alabama has allowed just over two yards per carry, but how could they possibly overplay the run if Clemson has so many receivers flooding the secondary?
Obviously, the Tigers would like to establish a ground game, and even though we know that Wayne Gallman did not rack up numbers like he did last year, when he said a new school record, but he had over 1000 yards, 85 last week against Ohio State, and appears to be getting over some of the injury problems that plagued him this season.
BetAnySports patrons also need to know that Clemson once again did a terrific job of replacing departed players on defense. Last year, they made it to the title game despite having nine starters, and this year coordinator Brent Venables had to replace seven people. Nonetheless, his unit came up with 49 sacks and ranked eighth overall in the country. Everybody knows that Urban Meyer runs a very smooth spread option offense at Ohio State, and they were able to move the football against almost all opponents. But they put ZERO points on the board against Clemson, registering only 215 yards. That’s not the kind of thing that happens by accident.
So it is with another solid stop unit that Clemson comes to the table on Monday night. It is also with an offense that can strike downfield and has a lot of balance. Once again, the key is for Watson to avoid that critical mistake that could lead to Alabama “flipping” the field – or just taking it into the end zone.
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