Just like the preseason polls predicted, the Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Clemson Tigers for the fourth consecutive year for a chance at the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night, and the battle in the trenches will be the story of the game.
Two college football powerhouses, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers, will face off for all the marbles again, and the battle is sure to be exciting. The key position battle in the game will be within the trenches on both sides of the ball. Whoever wins the battle of the line of scrimmage will win the game.
Clemson’s defensive line records more sacks than any team Alabama has faced this season. Against the best defense Alabama faced this season so far in Mississippi State, Tua looked uncharacteristically human chalking up only 164 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
In order for Alabama to find offensive success, Alabama’s offensive line will need to have their best game of the season in order to provide Tua with the best coverage possible. Clemson’s defensive prowess lives in their defensive line, so given sufficient time, Tua may be able to pick apart the Clemson secondary with Alabama’s athletic wide receiver core.
Similarly, Alabama’s defensive line will need to get a lot of pressure on freshman phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Alabama Crimson Tide defense also specializes in defensive line play with a young secondary. In order to take the pressure off of our young defensive backs like Patrick Surtain II faced in the semifinal game against Oklahoma, the defensive line will need to keep a pocket-passer quarterback like Lawrence scrambling.
Historically, the Alabama Crimson Tide defense fares much better against quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence as opposed to mobile, dual-threat quarterbacks like Kyler Murray. If Alabama’s defensive line can get penetration against Clemson’s offensive line, Trevor Lawrence will struggle. Guys up front like Quinnen Williams, Isaiah Buggs, Raekwon Davis, Anfernee Jennings, and- hopefully- Christian Miller will need to set the tone of the game early.
Nick Saban pulled the riskiest move in National Championship history last year pulling starter Jalen Hurts for freshman Tua Tagovailoa at half-time. Facing a defensive line like Clemson’s, Saban should keep that card in his back pocket for this game as well. Understandably so, Tua struggled when put under the pressure that Mississippi State and Georgia managed. While Jalen Hurts may not have the arm accuracy of Tua, his feet allow him to be better prepared to evade pressure than a supposed 80-85 percent Tua. Should the Clemson defensive line give Tua fits, giving Jalen Hurts the opportunity to demonstrate his mobility may not be a bad take at all.
The Alabama Crimson Tide offensive line will get just enough push to give Tua enough time to put up 50-50 throws for his wide receivers. Tua will be able to check the ball off to the short route quickly under pressure giving beasts like Josh Jacobs and Irv Smith Jr. the chance to make some big time plays. Quinnen Williams will have a day with freshman Trevor Lawrence, but the Alabama secondary will give up some big plays too. I am going to call it Alabama edging out Clemson for its National Championship No. 18.
Lauri Springer Game Prediction: Alabama 31 – Clemson 24
Check in with Bama Hammer frequently. We have several more game predictions planned. Last week, Bama Hammer contributor, Jonathan Waldrop picked the exact game score.