It’s Finally Here -- College Football’s Championship Game
IT'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S TITLE TILT: #1 ALABAMA vs. #2 CLEMSON IN REMATCH FOR THE AGES ON MONDAY NIGHT IN TAMPA
Play it again, Sam!
That's right, we're headed for Alabama vs. Clemson Part Deux when it comes to College Football's National Championship Game and right off the bat you wonder what's different from a year ago when 'Bama copped its fourth title in seven years with a thrill-a-minute 45-40 non-cover win against 6.5-point underdog Clemson.
Hey, there's plenty different starting with the fact Alabama will be going with a freshman QB Jalen Hurts who didn't exactly have a monster game last weekend with that 24-7 win/cover against 13-point pup Washington in the Peach Bowl/national semifinal playoff game (see 57 yards passing) and the fact he's being guided by first-time play-caller/offensive Steve Sarkisian following that much-celebrated departure of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin - c'mon, head coach Nick Saban fired the dude! - adds extra spice to the many storylines here.
Our Alabama vs. Clemson game preview comes your way in just a moment but first this reminder ...
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THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT - NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Raymond James Stadium - at Tampa, FL
#1 ALABAMA (14-0) vs. #2 CLEMSON (13-1) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's up for debate whether or not the aforementioned change from Kiffin-to-Sarkisian as Alabama's chief play-caller will be a major positive - or negative - here, so let's figure that the Crimson Tide will take a few more downfield shots here with Hurts looking to exploit a Clemson secondary that may have some holes. One thing we all learned from the New Year's Eve playoff/bowl games was that Clemson's D-line right now is one of the best in the land and we already knew that was the case with 'Bama and so it's some vertical passing schemes that could be the diff-makers here and - no doubt - that means advantage Clemson QB Deshaun Watson (259 yards passing and one aerial TD last week against Ohio State).
In fact, Watson also rushed the ball 15 times for 57 yards in that 31-0 wipeout win against Ohio State on Dec. 31st and gotta believe Saban's stop unit - the numero uno defense in the country - probably will "spy" Watson here in an attempt to wrap 'em up before he can get off any big ground-gainers. If Watson winds up with a dozen-or-so carries here and gets 50-plus rushing yards, Clemson's gonna be happy campers.
Also, if Watson continues to spread the wealth - remember he had five different receivers catch multiple passes against the Buckeyes with pro-bound WR Mike Williams (6 receptions worth 96 yards versus Ohio State) - than he could make life difficult on a unit that's been great but often versus one-dimensional offenses. Of course, it seems as if 'Bama gets at least one non-offensive TD a game (see pick six against Washington QB Jake Browning last time out) and Clemson simply cannot afford to allow the Tide to score on defense or on the kicking game here.
Okay, so Alabama received an over-the-top 19-carry, 180-yard, 2-TD game from RB Bo Scarbrough in that latest win against Washington - prop players should note his over/under rushing yards total for that game was 56.5 ... cha-ching! - and Scarbrough will be key here especially if the above-mentioned Hurts is struggling in the pass game. The 'Bama ground numbers versus the UW Huskies read like this: 50 rushes for 269 yards (or 5.38 yards a pop) and anything close to such figures here likely will spell out a twin-figure win for the Tide.
Saban is going for his fifth crown with 'Bama, his sixth crown overall. Better than Bear Bryant territory.
And he's never lost in a championship game while beating the likes of Oklahoma (while he was at LSU), Texas, LSU, Notre Dame and Clemson. Can be best this Clemson team twice within 364 days here?
No doubt Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney feels it's "his turn" ... find out Monday night.
Spread Notes - Alabama is a fabulous 10-4 ATS (against the spread) this season and the Crimson Tide's covered 14 of its last 20 games when in the favorite's role. Clemson is 7-7 ATS this season and a collective 11-7 versus the vig as underdogs dating back to late 2012.
Here's the game-by-game results for Alabama and Clemson (note all home teams in caps below):
|9-3 *||Alabama||- 13||Usc||52-6|
|9-10||ALABAMA||- 27||W. Kentucky||38-10|
|9-17||Alabama||- 10.5||OLE MISS||48-43|
|9-24||ALABAMA||- 42.5||Kent St.||48-0|
|10-22||ALABAMA||- 18.5||Texas A&M||33-14|
|11-12||ALABAMA||- 30||Miss St.||51-3|
|12-3 +||Alabama||- 23.5||Florida||54-16|
- = at Arlington
+ = SEC Championship Game/at Atlanta
^ = Peach Bowl/at Atlanta
|9-17||CLEMSON||- 53.5||SC State||59-0|
|9-22||Clemson||- 10||GA. TECH||26-7|
|10-7||Clemson||- 17.5||BOST. COLL||56-10|
|10-15||CLEMSON||- 21||N.C. State||24-17 (ot)|
|10-29||Clemson||- 4.5||FLORIDA ST.||37-34|
|11-19||Clemson||- 23.5||W. FOREST||35-13|
|11-26||CLEMSON||- 26.5||So. Carolina||56-7|
|12-3 ^||Clemson||- 11||Va. Tech||42-35|
|12-31 #||Clemson||- 1||Ohio St.||31-0|
^ = ACC Championship Game / at Orlando
# = Fiesta Bowl / at Glendale
NOTE: Catch our NFL Wild Card re-caps in the next Jim Sez
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