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2019 National Championship odds, line: Clemson vs. Alabama picks, predictions by advanced computer model on 49-27 roll
It’s winner-take-all in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship as the top two seeds, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers, battle for the title on Monday at 8 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Weather won’t be a factor on the West Coast, with temperatures in the 50s and light winds. While both teams average well over 40 points per game, they’re equally dominating on defense. Clemson held high-powered Notre Dame to just three points in the semis, while Alabama pitched back-to-back shutouts against LSU and Mississippi State this season. Alabama is a 5.5-point favorite, down one from the opener, and the Over-Under is 58 in the latest Clemson vs. Alabama odds. Before you make any Clemson vs. Alabama picks and 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship predictions, check out what the SportsLine Projection Model has to say.
The model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times, and those who have followed it have seen massive returns. Over the past three years, this proprietary computer model has generated a jaw-dropping $4,210 profit for $100 bettors on its top-rated point-spread picks.
The model has made some huge calls during bowl season, including Auburn (-3.5) annihilating Purdue (final score: 63-14) and Appalachian State (-6.5) destroying Middle Tennessee (final: 45-13). And when it comes to all top-rated picks, the model is red-hot, entering the national championship game on a blistering 49-27 run. Anybody who has been following it is way, way up.
Now the model has dialed in on Alabama vs.Clemson 10,000 times. We can tell you it’s leaning under, but it has also generated a spread pick that cashes nearly 60 percent of the time. You can only see it over at SportsLine.
The model knows that Alabama’s quick-strike offense is propelled by wideout Jerry Jeudy, who’s netting a whopping 18.7 yards per grab. In addition to his 13 touchdowns, he’s tops on the team with 63 receptions and 1,176 receiving yards.
Getting the ball into his hands is standout quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has tossed 41 touchdowns against only four interceptions. For the season, the sophomore signal caller has recorded six 300-yard games, including one last time out against the Sooners. In that game, he completed 89 percent of his attempts and tossed four touchdowns — including a 13-yard pass to Jeudy in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Just because the Crimson Tide have been unstoppable doesn’t mean they’ll cover the Alabama vs. Clemson spread, especially against the Tigers’ imposing defense.
While the Tigers rely substantially on their defensive front seven that stymies rushing attacks and pressures quarterbacks, their offense is equally formidable. Clemson scored at least 48 points a half-dozen times thanks to quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The lanky, 6-5 freshman has been nothing short of exceptional this season, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 27 scores. He also makes smart decisions when the pocket collapses, tossing only four picks and getting sacked just 11 times.
Lawrence’s favorite target is sophomore wideout Tee Higgins, who has notched 11 touchdown receptions, including a big one just before halftime against the Irish. He’s particularly effective in 50-50 situations, effectively utilizing his 6-4 frame to box out cornerbacks on deep throws.
Clemson is a sterling 6-1 against the spread on the road or at neutral sites this season. They’re 3-2 ATS versus teams like Alabama that are winning more than 70 percent of their games and have covered their last two with ease.
The Tigers are going to need to win the time of possession battle in order to win the game. Perhaps handily. That’s a lot to ask, but looking at the two teams’ statistical profiles going into the game, it’s doable. The other half of that equation is also key…
Their rushing attack is better
Trevor Lawrence and the defense get most of the publicity for Clemson, but Travis Etienne is a boss. He’s run for 1,572 yards and 22 touchdowns this season on a whopping 8.3 yards per carry. It’s not going to be easy to run on Alabama, but if anyone can do it, it’s Clemson. The Tigers also have an outstanding offensive line.
Alabama could post gaudier rushing totals if they chose to commit to the run more, but considering they have Tua Tagovailoa under center, it’s understandable why they don’t. Damien Harris is their leading rusher with 819 yards on the season.
All things considered, you’d rather have an elite passing game than an elite running game. But there’s a clear formula for Clemson to win: contain Tagovailoa, and control the time of possession battle with Etienne and the offensive line.
Momentum is on their side
Clemson has played lights-out football for months now. No opponent has come within 20 points of the Tigers since Sept. 29, a game they won by four against Syracuse. And while Alabama and Clemson both won in the CFP semifinals comfortably, the Tigers’ win over the Fighting Irish was a complete domination. The Tide got up early and coasted for most of the second half.
A reminder: Alabama should still be expected to win, but this is the case for why Clemson can. The Crimson Tide should be applauded for beating Georgia and Oklahoma in their last two outings, but they struggled in the first half against the Bulldogs and took their foot off the gas in the second half against Oklahoma. The Tigers went through that kind of stretch in September but are playing their best football now.
Their pass rush
Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and Christian Wilkins are for real, and while Clemson has excellent cover guys, the best way to contain Tagovailoa is by giving him less time to throw. The loss of Lawrence hurts here, but this should be the best pass rush Alabama has faced all season.
The most similar comparison is Alabama’s game against Georgia, where the Crimson Tide scuffled offensively and the Bulldogs consistently applied pressure. Of course, there’s a big difference: Tagovailoa is healthier and more mobile now. But it’s a factor to keep an eye on nonetheless. An outstanding pass rush is a prerequisite for having any shot to contain the Alabama offense, and Clemson fits the bill.
If Clemson can control the time of possession and keep Tagovailoa under wraps, this game will likely come down to the wire. And crazy stuff can happen in a one-score college football game.
Chance comes into play when the talent levels are comparable; they are here. Don’t be surprised if this game is decided by three points either way.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Clemson 27, Alabama 24