The popular opinion is that Monday night’s CFP championship game from Levi’s Stadium outside San Francisco is merely a coronation as opposed to a competition for Nick Saban and the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide when they line up against the No. 2 Clemson Tigers in the mother of all college football games. But the best online sportsbooks, over at Sportsbook Review, are not hanging the Crimson Tide as substantial favorites. After clicking over to SBR we see that Alabama is just a six-point favorite.
That is in stark contrast to their previous 13 games this season in which they were installed as double-digit chalk against each and every opponent, including the vaunted passing attack of in the CFP semifinal where the oddsmakers made them 15-point betting favorites. Alabama won that game 45-34 but failed to cover the number, sending all of those Bama boys and girls who enjoy investing their money as well their emotions on the Tide home with empty wallets. That was not the case with the Tigers in their CFP semifinal as true freshman QB Trevor Lawrence dazzled yet again and scorched Notre Dame with three passing touchdowns and 327 yards through the air in their 30-3 domination.
Monday’s title game, the fourth straight CFP meeting between these schools, features a pair of relentless defenses that can both stop the run and defend against the pass. It’s tough to pick which one is better, but statistically the Tigers get the nod, having surrendered only 13.7 points per game (tied for No. 2 in the nation) vs. the Alabama defense allowing 14.8 points per game (No. 4 in the nation).
We won’t quibble as to which is better but let us assume that both offenses will be burdened by a swarming pass rush and a steel curtain awaiting their rushing attacks. Let’s call the defense a jump ball, although Clemson’s D looked formidable in holding the third-ranked team in the nation to only a field goal in their win over the Irish, while Bama was torched for 34 points by the high-flying offense of Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and the Sooners.
Perhaps the closest comparison to what the Crimson Tide will face on Monday comes in the form of their SEC title tilt against the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia boasts another world-class defense and the Tide had to mount a miraculous rally, courtesy of Jalen Hurts who subbed midway for the injured Tua Tagovailoa, to defeat the Dawgs 35-28. Granted, scoring five touchdowns doesn’t resonate as a team facing a stalwart defense but for much of that game, the Tide was held in check. It was a similar result to the CFP championship game last year when Bama won a 26-23 overtime thriller, again over Georgia. Clemson will pose an even greater threat to Alabama’s offense, and if they get down late there could very well be no return for the Tide.
The long and short is that Clemson not only offers value for those who like to wager at some of the best online sportsbooks, found with just a click of the mouse at Sportsbook Review, but they could win this game outright. Sports bettors who boldly dare to eschew the points and bet the Tigers on the money line will be rewarded with a return of up to $190 for every $100 wagered if the Tigers prevail. The trepidation some have is that Clemson’s quarterback, Lawrence, is a true freshman and it has been 33 years since a true freshman led his team to a national title. That occurred during the 1985 season when the Sooners’ Jamelle Holieway led his team to a 25-10 win over Penn State and staked Oklahoma’s claim to a national championship.
It was done before, and Lawrence, as well as the menacing defense Clemson defense, can do it again.