Wilson: What I’m Betting on Clemson-Alabama in 2019 National Championship Game
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Travis Etienne
- Collin Wilson is eyeing a side and a handful of props in the 2019 national championship game between Clemson and Alabama.
- Here's what he's betting, and be sure to follow him on Twitter and in The Action Network app through the links below to get additional bets as the game approaches.
The two best teams in all of college football will compete for the first 15-0 record since Penn in 1897 in Monday’s national championship game.
Alabama and Clemson were the top ranked teams in each College Football Playoff rankings during 2018, and will meet in the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, with the Tide holding a 2-1 edge.
There are plenty of storylines in Santa Clara. Nick Saban will attempt to pass Bear Bryant for the most all-time national titles by a coach at seven. Alabama is a single-digit favorite for the first time all year. It’s a preview of the 2019 Heisman Trophy race between Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa. Lawrence trying to become the first true freshman quarterback to win it all since 1985.
Independent of the traditional storylines, there’s money to be made. Here’s some of what I’m betting on Monday night. Follow me on Twitter and in The Action Network App to get any additional bets I’m making on props, the game or in live betting.
Alabama First Quarter (-.5)
Both teams will look to implement a similar pace, as Clemson averages 73.8 plays per game to Alabama’s 69.3 over the span of 2018.
But the first quarter will be key, and should provide a window of opportunity for live bettors. Alabama has outscored Clemson 38-24 in the first in their previous three meetings, but a closer look at the 2018 game log shows why it makes sense to take the Tide in this prop.
Alabama has scored on the first drive of every game in 2018 with the exception of Georgia, LSU and Auburn. Conversely, Clemson has failed to score in nine of its 14 games this season.
Alabama -.5 (-110) in a first quarter line is a great value play on a team that starts fast versus a team whose offense takes a few drives to score.
Like I mentioned above, I will be looking for opportunities to back Clemson live if the Tigers get off to a slow start, which I expect they will. Follow me on Twitter to see when I bet live.
Clemson at +3.5 or Better, Full Game
As I said in the spring, Clemson is just as talented in every aspect of the game as Alabama, but with much better price tag. Trevor Lawrence has been groomed for this spot and has been granted the better defense in this game.
Nick Saban may be considered the better coach than Dabo Swinney, but there is a stark contrast in coordinators. The Clemson coordinators are getting Alabama for a fourth consecutive year, while the rotating coordinators in Tuscaloosa may play a factor. Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will move on to Maryland directly after this game, while first year defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi coaches the biggest game of his life.
If you have read any of my work with The Action Network since last spring, Clemson +750 to win the national title along with Clemson to make the playoff +110 were the first bets of 2018.
I later added Clemson +8 in a lookahead line if the Tigers were to face Alabama. The Action Network Power Ratings make this game Alabama -3, which is higher than respected counterparts S&P+ and ESPN FPI. I am not backing down now with Clemson at any number over +3.
Trevor Lawrence Over 2 TDs (+110)
Trevor Lawrence signed with Clemson 12 days before Alabama beat Clemson 24-6 in last years semifinal Sugar Bowl game. Fast forward a year later, through the spring camp hype and the decision to overtake Kelly Bryant in the Syracuse game, and Lawrence is expected to be the explosive factor Clemson needed to hurdle the Crimson Tide.
Lawrence hit nine different receivers against Notre Dame, specifically targeting freshman wide receiver Justyn Ross for 148 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Ross creates matchup issues with an Alabama back seven that is just 35th in passing downs defensive efficiency.
The current prop of Trevor Lawrence over 2 touchdowns (+120) deserves an investment. Alabama has allowed 25 scores in the red zone so far this season, ranking fourth in the nation at 71.4%. A deep dive into that stat shows that 13 of the 25 scores have been passing touchdowns.
While the Crimson Tide are stingy against the rush and have limited field goals, it is the air attack of Trevor Lawrence that will get points on the board.
Travis Ettiene Over 83.5 Rushing Yards
As for the rest of the field, the Tigers should be able to move the ball on the ground when needed. Per Pro Football Focus, Clemson runs the second-most run-pass option plays at an average of 7.7 yards per attempt. Running back Travis Etienne is the beneficiary of this scheme and may have a big day against the Alabama rush defense.
The Crimson Tide are fourth overall S&P+ rush defense, but rank 46th against opponent explosiveness and 29th in stuff rate. That translates to the stable of Clemson rushers getting chunk yardage or short gains when needed.
5Dimes lists Travis Etienne over 83.5 rushing yards, and that deserves a bet, as Notre Dame had a much more stingy defense against rush explosiveness and allowed the Clemson running back to go over 100 yards that included a 62-yard gain.
Alabama Under Sacks
This prop isn’t available as of Monday morning, but I’ll be looking for it until kickoff.
As mentioned, Lawrence should have success against an Alabama defense that falls against efficiency and explosiveness in passing downs situations, both ranking outside the top 30 in S&P+. Per Pro Football Focus, Lawrence gets rid of the ball quicker than most any other quarterback in the FBS with an average of 2.19 seconds.
Alabama may be top five in total sacks and first in sack rate, but the Clemson freshman quarterback will have a quick release to avoid pressure. If any Alabama Team Total Sacks prop bets become available, I will more than likely take an under. With a defensive line unit that ranks 43rd in havoc, it may actually be the underdog that controls the trenches in this game.