National Championship Preview

ALABAMA TRIES TO EXTEND DYNASTY AS CLEMSON TRIES TO MAKE HISTORY

Though the National Semifinals had disappointing TV ratings because they were played on New Year's Eve, everybody who loves college football will be watching Monday Night's National Championship showdown between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers.

Both teams scored impressive victories the last time out...each covering by more than three touchdowns in a 38-10 win over Michigan State, and a 37-17 win over Oklahoma respectively. These teams clearly earned their way here. Alabama was the best team in all the computers, and only had one blemish vs. the nation's toughest schedule. Clemson ran the table and enters as #1 in the polls even if they're the betting underdog in Las Vegas.

Let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats say about Monday night's championship showdown...

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Clemson: 14-0 (#30 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Alabama: 13-1 (#1 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)

Facing North Carolina and Oklahoma in the last two games helped lift Clemson's strength of schedule. But, they still didn't face anywhere near the test Alabama did. Most importantly, Alabama was fairly dominant against that brutal slate! It's not like the team had to win nailbiter after nailbiter. Alabama was largely a cut above teams who went on to look great in their bowl games. Alabama is the superior team AND more battle tested, which has earned the market's respect. Clemson deserves to be here. They are a clear underdog though.

Yards-Per-Play
Clemson: 6.4 on offense, 4.7 on defense
Alabama: 5.8 on offense, 4.1 on defense

Both teams are at +1.7 in per play differential. Had they played the same schedule...that would suggest a pick-em game. They didn't! Alabama had a fantastic defense while playing the nation's toughest schedule. Where would Clemson have finished had they played in the SEC West? Answer that question, and you've probably figured out your selection here. They certainly wouldn't have been bullied. Would Clemson have finished second in a round robin schedule?

Turnover Differential
Clemson: -1
Alabama: +9

Both teams forced 26 turnovers. That's not particularly great for a 14 game schedule! But, we do have athletes on that side of the ball...and they'll gladly accept whatever gifts are offered. Big difference on offense though. Alabama finished with only 17 giveaways despite losing the ball 5 times in that one loss to Ole Miss. They really learned a lesson about ball protection there! Clemson's more wide-open style led to more turnovers...which created a very disappointing -1 differential despite playing the softer schedule. No way Clemson wins this game unless they can find the end zone without turning the ball over.

Market Performance
Clemson: 7-7 ATS
Alabama: 8-6 ATS (5-9 to the Under)

It's tough for elite teams to post great ATS records because they're priced to perfection almost every week. Nothing wrong with reaching perfection almost half the time! We included that Under trend for Alabama because the market was slow to realize how conservative the team had gotten after the turnover debacle in the loss to Ole Miss. Alabama went back to smash mouth football and running clock to protect the ball. Note that Alabama/MSU would have landed on 31 without a punt return TD for the tide.

Quarterback Play
Deshaun Watson: 303-444-12-3699...31 touchdown passes
Jake Coker: 247-368-8-2775...with 19 touchdown passes

This is where things could get interesting. Watson was more dynamic in the air, and ALSO rushed for more than 1,000 yards! Alabama's defense normally puts up a brick wall and shuts people down. But, versatile quarterback WEAPONS like this have been known to give Nick Saban headaches. Watson has to figure out how to move the ball without turning it over, and without taking any big hits. If he gets knocked out of the game, Clemson has no chance.

Current Line: Alabama by 7, total of 50.5

The line keeps flipping between 6.5 and 7. Alabama fans love laying just -6.5. But, Clemson money does come in strong on the key number of seven. Generally speaking, if you think Watson is going to have a big game...then Clemson and Over makes a lot of sense. If you think Alabama's defense is going to shine while the offense runs clock, then Alabama and Under could provide a virtual replay sweep from New Year's Eve.

JIM HURLEY knows how important it is to win the last game of the year. You want to end the season on a high note with A BIG, JUICY WINNER! He and his full team of experts will leave no stone unturned in tracking down the right Las Vegas wagering strategy.  

You can purchase the final word for Monday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours. This is a great time to ask about combination packages that take you through the NFL Super Bowl and college basketball's MARCH MADNESS

College football may be ending Monday...but the NFL has plenty of action left. We'll be talking about the Divisional Round matchups this week in the NOTEBOOK...

Tuesday: NFL Divisional Round Preview...Saturday's early game
Thursday: NFL Divisional Round Preview...Saturday's late game
Weekend: NFL Divisional Round Preview...Sunday's late game

For now...the focus is on Alabama vs. Clemson. WHEN CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE ON THE LINE, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

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