Alabama vs. Washington
ATS Pick (Alabama -13.5)
Duffy: Washington. I could have gone either way on this one. These are both deliberate offenses, which means fewer possessions. I think the Huskies can hit Alabama through the air. I think their defense can keep up in the turnover battle as well. I’m predicting about a 31-20 Alabama win. The cover probably hinges on whether Alabama gets a punt return TD.
Koster: Washington. Alabama has done nearly everything thus far to prove they are an all-time great team. One thing they haven’t done, however, is face a team with the balance of Washington. The Huskies can move the ball on ground and through the air. They can defend aerial and rushing attacks. Perhaps most importantly, Washington is capable of winning the turnover battle against the Crimson Tide. This game will pit two teams capable of bleeding the clock in a situation where every play will be of utmost importance. Possessions could be limited.
Lisk: Washington. The simple rating system has the line much, much closer than the actual line. I think this is driven by Alabama’s name and accomplishments, and the USC factor, where Alabama destroyed the Trojans in the opener and Washington lost their only game to USC at home. But going off one game is not really a good idea. I think this is the best pass offense Alabama has faced and that is a HUGE line.
Shamburger: Alabama. I know Washington and Browning are talented, but they haven’t faced a defensive front like Bama’s. I expect the Tide to do what they do and wear the Huskies down.
Ohio State vs. Clemson
Duffy: Ohio State
Lisk: Ohio State
ATS Pick (Ohio State -3)
Duffy: Ohio State. The Buckeyes have an excellent, efficient defense. They create turnovers and they turn those turnovers into points. Clemson…has committed far too many turnovers this season. Teams that have troubled Ohio State this season, for the most part, have done so on the ground. I’m not sure Clemson can do that. For all the fancy numbers Clemson’s defense put up, they didn’t really stop a good offense from doing what it wanted to do all season.
Koster: Clemson. At the risk of sounding too much like Jadar Johnson, J.T. Barrett could have trouble with the Tigers defense. Barrett’s accuracy has struggled in big games and Ohio State can become too one-dimensional, as they did against Michigan. If there’s any duo that can test the Buckeyes’ secondary, it’s DeShaun Watson and Mike Williams. Admittedly, this is a tough read but I’ll give the advantage to Clemson, who played in huge games last year.
Lisk: Ohio State. You can find flaws with both teams, using a strong lens. Both are loaded with talent but didn’t always play to it. I’ll go with the team that (emerged from, but didn’t win on a tiebreaker) the best conference in college football this year.
Shamburger: Clemson. Ohio State is probably the safer pick, but I think Clemson can do more offensively than the Buckeyes and win by at least a TD.
Duffy: Alabama. There’s no reason to be cute.
Koster: Alabama. Any other pick would be trying too hard.
Lisk: Ohio State. Because Kyle challenged me and I think these teams are closer to Bama–not in accomplishment of going undefeated but in terms of what they can do on a neutral field. I would take the “field” against Alabama to win the title.
Shamburger: Alabama. Because no other choice makes sense.