KYLE KOSTER: Alabama 31, Clemson 17
The fatigue is real. Luckily, human nature causes most ill will to subside when the big game starts. When the dust settles on this one, though, it will again ramp up a notch. Why? Because I expect Nick Saban’s side to dominate a rather dull affair.
Tua Tagovailoa has been a revelation and turned the already dominate Crimson Tide into an unstoppable machine. Even a middling offensive performance against Georgia picked up late and posted 35 points. Clemson’s defensive line is incredible, but won’t get consistent pressure or shut down Alabama’s rushing attack. I’m expecting ‘Bama to bring the fight right to the trenches and run the ball 35-40 times.
Trevor Lawrence has been incredible, but has never faced a defense like this. Dabo Swinney will attempt to come up with new wrinkles, but familiarity makes it more difficult.
Would I like to be wrong about this pick and see another instant classic? Sure. I’m just not feeling it.
Michael Shamburger: Alabama 38, Clemson 31
Another year, another Bama national championship. Get used to it because there’s likely going to be another run next year as well with Tua coming back.
I don’t have much to add. We’ve seen enough of these two teams over the last four years that we know who they are and what they do.
Ryan Phillips: Alabama 42, Clemson 28
Bama does it again. Tua does it again.
While Alabama’s defense might not be one of the best Nick Saban has had, this offense is easily his most explosive. A 15-0 season will put this group among the best, most dominant teams of all-time.
Vik Chokshi: Alabama 31, Clemson 27
Love Trevor Lawrence, as the kid looks special. And, you know Dabo will have his team prepared and mentally ready to battle. Clemson has not looked the least bit intimidated by Alabama the last few times out, so this game is going to be a lot closer than people think. In the end, it wouldn’t surprise me if Clemson won, but Tua and co. will do just enough to pull this out. I see ‘Bama winning, but Clemson covering the spread.
Jason McIntyre: Alabama 28, Clemson 27
I think there’s been too much of an adjustment to the original line, which was 8.5 before the semifinals. Clemson’s secondary is young and has struggled (South Carolina, Texas A&M); I’m very curious to see how Trevor Lawrence handles the Alabama pass rush. Pocket passers have not fared well vs Nick Saban. I like a low-scoring first half. I’ll be pulling for the Clemson upset, and Alabama’s special teams could be a liability. Freshman Joseph Bulovas has missed five extra points and he’s 9-of-12 on field goals between 20-49 yards. Saban’s Tide are always a different team in the semifinals (one month to prepare) vs the Finals (one week).