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College Football Playoff National Championship Preview

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-2017 college football season will come to a close Monday night when the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers face off in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. This is only the third Championship Game since the NCAA moved away from the BCS Bowl system. However, with a win on Monday, the Crimson Tide will become the first team to win a second championship in the new system. That second title would be against the same team that Alabama beat to win its first, Clemson. Let’s take a look at the chances of that happening.

Both Alabama and Clemson got to the Championship Game by demoralizing its opponents in the semifinals. Clemson defeated Ohio State 31-0 and Alabama defeated Washington 24-7. Both teams are coming into this game hot and two teams have a combined record of 27-1 this season.

There are few things either team are inefficient in. Both teams boast incredible offenses. Clemson’s offense ranked 13th in the NCAA by averaging 39.5 points per game and Alabama ranked 15th averaging 39.4 points per game. Defensively, both teams are also insanely good. However, this is one area Alabama has been distinctly better. Clemson plays great defense, ranking 12th in the NCAA by only allowing 18.4 points per game. Then there is Alabama, however, who has the best defense in college football by allowing a mere 11.8 points per game.

For Clemson to win, the offense will need to move through quarterback Deshaun Watson’s arm. Clemson ran for 205 yards against Ohio State. Running Back Wayne Gallman received the most carries and led the team in rushing yards with 85 yards and a touchdown. Clemson will not have the same success on the ground against Alabama as it did against Ohio State. The Crimson Tide’s rush defense is one of the greatest of all time, allowing only 2.0 yards per carry.

Clemson should have a better time than Washington combatting Alabama’s strongest point of their game, Alabama’s defensive line. That defensive line held Washington to only 44 rushing yards and also sacked Washington’s quarterback, Jake Browning, five times. Clemson has a much better offensive line than Washington which will be needed if Clemson has any chance to win this game.

In the end, Alabama will prevail. Clemson will score more than Washington did, but Alabama’s offense is too dynamic for Clemson’s defense to stop. Alabama can beat a team in the air, but also averages 246.7 rushing yards per game. The Championship Game will be closer than the two semifinal games, but not particularly close.

Prediction: Alabama 28-14

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