Clemson defense vs. Alabama’s offense: After what Clemson’s defense did to Ohio State’s offense, pitching Urban Meyer his first shutout of his career, Alabama’s offense was put on notice. However, Clemson’s NFL-studded (and deep) defense has been shaky at times, giving up 24 points to Troy, 36 to Louisville, 34 to Florida St, 42 to Pittsburgh and 35 to Virginia Tech. On the other side of the ball, Alabama has one their most dynamic offense’s ever. No longer is Saban’s offense 10 vs 11. Opposing defenses now must account for their dual-threat QB, Jalen Hurts and Bama has been piling on the points all season long. Advantage? While I feel the advantage would go to Alabama, I’m going to an “even” rating here with the loss of Lane Kiffin. Yes, the coaches know the playbook and can easily navigate 95% of the playbook, but it’s the key 5% of the “must-convert” plays that I think you lose without Kiffin.
Alabama’s defense vs. Clemson’s offense: Deshaun Watson is arguably the best player in college football. His ability to make plays to keep the offense moving (and score points) is the reason they’re in the championship game -again. However, I feel this is Alabama’s best defense is many, many years. Even better than 2011’s beast of a defense. They lead in PPG, YPC, YPP, total QBR, and most other defensive stats. Throw in their game-changing defensive TD’s they’ve scored all season long and the advantage goes to the Tide.
Special teams: Alabama’s punter JK Scott is averaging a lofty 47.4 yards per punt. Clemson’s punter is averaging 38 yards per punt, but has put 21 of 53 punts inside of the 20. The Tide’s field goal kicker has connected on 20 of 27 field goals this year, while Clemson’s kicker is 14 of 19. Both feature capable return guys. Things look pretty even overall, but I’ll give the slight advantage to Alabama as their special teams unit has scored 4 TD’s this season.
Prediction: This is the best Alabama defense I’ve seen in recent memory, combined with the most dynamic offense Saban has ever had. They can shut opponents down and if necessary and they can beat you in a shootout. Factor in Deshaun Watson’s 17 interceptions this season with Bama’s 15 non-offensive touchdowns and Alabama gets then extra TD (or 2) for the win and the cover.