Wilson: My Initial Betting Thoughts On Clemson-Alabama In The National Championship Game
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justyn Ross and Tua Tagovailoa
- Before the College Football Playoff semifinals ended, Collin Wilson had his bets locked and loaded for the national championship game.
- Alabama is a 6.5-point favorite over Clemson.
The College Football Playoff championship game is Clemson-Alabama IV.
If you are keeping tabs at home, Alabama holds a 2-1 lead with each team splitting a national championship and last year’s Sugar Bowl serving as a Crimson Tide victory. Clemson advanced after a Cotton Bowl pummeling against Notre Dame. The Tigers doubled the Irish in total yards, racking up six sacks and five quarterback hurries.
Alabama was victorious in the Orange Bowl despite some sloppy play, beating Oklahoma 45-34 but failing to cover the spread.
Even before Saturday’s games, I knew Alabama would open too high.
The Action Network Power Ratings make Alabama a 3.5-point favorite in the national championship game. Prior to the Orange and semifinals, S&P+ made the game Alabama -1.8. ESPN FPI had a similar projection at Alabama -1.1 prior to the playoff games.
BetOnline went first to the market with Alabama -9 during the first quarter of the Orange Bowl.
This number took immediate Clemson action down to Alabama -7 as time expired in the first half of the Orange Bowl. Toward the end of the second quarter, Will Hill had announced their opening line for the championship game at Alabama -5.5.
The question is if Clemson can live up to multiple power rating projections for a competitive National Championship game. A quick look at the advanced stats show a number of areas where both teams rank outside the top 25. Clemson is much better in the red zone offensively, ranking 11th in FBS compared to 67th for Alabama.
Cashing in the red zone requires an offense capable of getting in opponent territory. Alabama ranks top 5 in almost every S&P+ category offensively from rushing, passing, standard and passing downs. A rank of 75th in third down distance may not matter, as the Crimson Tide are second in conversion percentage.
These are the two best teams in college football, as both teams are top 10 in overall havoc, resume S&P+ and efficiency on the both sides of the ball. Where Alabama has the advantages in third down and offensive explosiveness, Clemson has the upper hand in red zone efficiency and defensive finishing drives.
As this game pits a historic Alabama offense against a historic Clemson defense, any point spread north of 4.5 deserves a serious look on the Tigers.