To get to Arizona, Clemson had to beat Oklahoma. The Tigers were able to defeat the Sooners for three reasons. One, they were the better football team. I bet the Tigers had some spirited practices when Head Coach Dabo Swinney could start every one with, “Well you are undefeated and #1 in the country but the experts still think OU is a field goal better.” Two, when their offense plays without making mistakes, the Tigers score touchdowns about every time they touch the football. The only team to stop the Tigers offense this year has been the Tigers. On New Year’s Eve the Clemson offense played nearly mistake free football. And thirdly, the Tigers won because of a dominant defensive backfield. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield looked very good for a half, but in the second half there were no open receivers. His receivers were unable to create separation against the extremely athletic Tiger secondary.
To beat Alabama, Clemson has to stop The Heisman winner Derrick Henry of course. Jake Coker will struggle to find open receivers against the best secondary he has faced all season. So
Bama will need Henry to carry the load. If Clemson can contain Henry, and that’s a tall order for any defense, that should lead to holding the Tide in check. Nobody has really done that this year, but there is a first time for everything.
This may surprise some people but I think Travis Blanks is a guy that has to play big. As the nickel backer and sometimes weak side linebacker, he has to be huge in run support. It’s going to take a lot of hats to the football to take down Henry. If Blanks can help out in the pass game along with helping to slow down Mr. Heisman, the Tigers will be in good shape.
The X-Factor for CU would be Wayne Gallman. Everyone is saying the Bama defensive line will dominate the line of scrimmage. So, my answer is almost more the Clemson
O-line as well, but if the Wayne Train can turn some two yard gains into four yard gains by making people miss or through his tremendous second efforts the Tigers should be able to overcome the extreme talent of the 33rd NFL team the Crimson Tide put out on D.
To me, this is a coin flip game. So, if you’re dealing with your short-term investment banker, take the seven points. In my opinion this game is so close that I even searched who would win in the wild between a Tiger and an Elephant. In the wild they apparently never square off, but the Vietnamese many years ago used to remove the claws and teeth of a Tiger and pit them against Elephants. Even then, the Tiger usually badly injured the elephant and killed a human guard. Sadly for Sabin these Tigers still have all their claws and teeth and are very motivated. Like I said earlier, at every practice Dabo could say, “Well you are undefeated and #1 in the country but the experts still think Bama is a TD better. They don’t respect you, your schedule or your conference”. And even more importantly the team with the better QB wins most of the time. Watson has not lost a game he started and finished. If he finishes I think he wins, but Bama will be trying to do the ‘ol Vietnam declawing by knocking out the Tigers leader. I think he will finish even if he is staggered a few times.
Final score is Clemson 28, Bama 27.