The College Football National Championship game between the No. 1 Clemson Tigers and the No. 2 Crimson Tide is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing games in the history of college football betting. Check out our analysis below as we weigh in on why the Tigers should be you preferred ATS pick in the NCAAF spread.
CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T: Alabama vs. Clemson
When: Monday, January 11, 2015 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
Where: Glendale, Arizona | University of Phoenix Stadium
NCAAF Spread: Clemson (+7)
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) January 1, 2016
Why Bet on the Clemson Tigers’s +7 NCAAF Spread
For starters, I’d like to register my personal opinion that I think Dabo Swinney and his No. 1 Tigers (14-0 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) have been very underrated in the playoffs by the Oddsmakers. Even after being the only Power Five conference to finish the regular season and Conference Championship games with a flawless record, they were priced as underdogs against the one-loss Sooners. You all know how that story went—with Clemson trailing OU at the half, the Tigers showed why they were the No. 1 team in the country, recording a thrilling come-from-behind win, led by Watson and Co. in the offense and a mean defense that choked out the much-praised Bob Stoops high-tempo offense.
You’d expect them to at least get some respect in their game against Alabama in the Finals after such a performance (and with their flawless 14-0 record intact). Instead, they are once again placed as one touchdown underdogs against the solid—but overhyped—Alabama team. I mean, nobody is saying Alabama isn’t a great team, but if you look at the past trends, you’d agree that Alabama (even after shutting out Sparty) is a beatable team, and here are reasons to prove that:
Rolling back the time on this season, we find that the Tide loss to Ole Miss (in Alabama), a game that saw the much-praised Bama defense give its single worst defensive showing of the year. Last season in playoffs, the Tide lost to the eventual National Champs Ohio State in a CFP Semifinal. And lest you forget, Alabama also lost at Ole Miss in last year’s regular-season campaign. In 2013, the Tide got manhandled in the Sugar Bowl by Oklahoma on the back of a regular season ending loss to the Auburn Tigers. Okay, pardon me for stretching the examples, but I have a good reason for mentioning all these losses. In all the above-mentioned defeats, there is one underlining fact—all those teams had up-tempo spread offenses led by mobile quarterbacks.
Now, do you know what other team operated with the same up-tempo spread offense with a mobile quarterback? Yes, that’s right… the CLEMSON TIGERS! I don’t need to start quoting the numbers and records broken by Watson and his dual-threat quarterbacking skills, or even mention how many teams he has single-handedly/leggedly taken down this season. Just type his name on your Google page and hit the search button to read it all on your own. And did I say Watson finished in the top-3 of the Heisman voting due to his amazing exploits this season? Yeah, there’s that too. So whatever kind of havoc Alabama’s Derrick Henry plans on bringing, Watson should just about be able to do the same with his legs…and hands, as an added plus.
And before you talk about Alabama’s stellar rushing defense and how it will limit Watson and his runners from moving the chains, allow me to remind you that Clemson has gone 15-5 ATS in its last 20 games against opponents that allow 120-or-less rushing yards per game, possessing a remarkable +12.0 point per game differential in those contests. Hanging with Alabama’s rushing defense (allowing 74 YPG rushing) should thus be within Swinney’s ballpark of comfort.
Finally, and more notably, the Tigers’ last four bowl games have all ended in outright SU and ATS college football betting victories. For reference, those games came against Oklahoma (twice), Oho State and LSU, who you all know as football powerhouses. Even more astoundingly, Clemson was the underdog in all four of those contests, yet they not only covered the spread, but they won EACH AND EVERY one of those games by a touchdown or more. So if you want to sleep on the Tigers (+7) in the SU or ATS NCAAF lines, do so… but at the risk of you being wounded badly!