The 2017 College Football Playoff Championship Game is set for Monday, January 9th. It’s a rematch from last year, as the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide take on the No. 2 Clemson Tigers. Last year’s game went right down to the wire, with Alabama holding on for a 45-40 win.
Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The game will be televised on ESPN. Taking a look at the college bowl odds, the Crimson Tide are a 6.5-point favorite. The over/under for the contest is 51 points.
CFP National Championship Game Vegas Betting Preview
Alabama knocked off No. 4 Washington 24-7 as a 14-point favorite in the Semifinals. The Crimson Tide fell behind 0-7 early, but the defense dominated from that point on. The biggest play in the game was a 26-yard interception returned for a TD late in the 3rd quarter. It turned a 3-point Alabama lead into a 10-point lead. It was 1 of 3 turnovers forced by the Crimson Tide, who limited Washington to just 194 total yards.
Crimson was also impressive in their semifinal matchup. The Tigers cruised to a 31-0 win over No. 3 Ohio State. The line closed at Clemson +1, but it was anywhere from -3 to a pick’em leading up to the game. The Tigers defense was equally impressive as Alabama. They forced 3 turnovers and held the Buckeyes to just 215 yards. It was the first time in a 194 games that Urban Meyer was shutout as a head coach.
Last year’s game was a back and forth affair. Alabama led 7-0 early but the two went into the half tied 14-14. Clemson took a 24-21 lead into the 4th quarter. The Tide’s offense then exploded for 24 points in the final period. Alabama led 45-33 with less than a minute to play, but the Tigers scored a TD with 12 seconds left to make it 40-45.
National Championship Game Free Pick & Predictions: Clemson +6.5
I think the value here is clearly with the Tigers catching almost a touchdown. Clemson proved last year they can hang with Alabama. In fact, you could argue they outplayed the Crimson Tide given the stats. Clemson had a 550 to 473 edge in total yards and 33-18 advantage in first downs. The thing is that there’s so much love for the SEC and Alabama, the books have no choice but to inflate this number.
Click here to view any free college football picks for the title game.
There’s a lot of talk about how great this Crimson Tide defense is. There’s no denying it’s good, I just don’t know that it’s as elite as people think. The numbers going into the championship game aren’t all that far off from last year. They are allowing 11.4 ppg and 244 ypg. Last year they gave up 15.1 ppg and 276 ypg. The thing to keep in mind, is the SEC wasn’t nearly as good this year as it was in 2015.
Keep in mind that they went into the title game last season off a dominant defensive effort. They had just shutout Michigan State in a 38-0 win. Holding the Spartans to just 239 yards and 16 first downs.
One of the reasons that Alabama puts up such great defensive numbers in the SEC, is there’s not a lot of great QB’s. I know Browning got a lot of love, but I don’t think he’s what people make him out to be. The two best quarterbacks the Tide faced in the SEC were Chad Kelly from Ole Miss and Austin Allen from Arkansas. Kelly went 26 of 40 for 421 yards and 3 TDs, as the Rebels put up 43 points. Allen went 25 of 48 for 400 yards and 3 TDs.
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is better than both of those guys. I think we are going to see the Tigers offense put up a big number here. The big difference this time around, is Alabama’s offense isn’t as good. Jalen Hurts just isn’t as big of a threat in the passing game as Coker was last season. In fact, this Crimson Tide offense reminds me a lot of what Clemson just faced in Ohio State.
If that wasn’t enough, Alabama fired offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin after the semifinal game. Steve Sarkisian will fill the void. Whether you like Kiffin or not, he’s an excellent offensive mind. He excelled at making adjustments mid game and getting the players in spots to succeed. I don’t know how big the drop off will be, but I don’t think it’s going to be as good as it would have been.
I also think there’s a big edge to the team who lost the first meeting in these rematch scenarios. I’ll gladly take the points, but I think Clemson wins this one outright.