College Football Championship Game Preview

By Justin Lasher

It’s only fair that Just Average Sports Guys jump in on the National Championship game preview.

Clemson vs. Alabama – For all the Marbles

    1. Questions
      1. Can Clemson even the score and win tonight to avenge last year’s defeat at the hands of the Crimson Tide?
      2. Who has a better game Clemson’s Deshaun Watson or Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough?
      3. Will Lane Kiffin’s departure and Steve Sarkisian’s accension have any impact on the Alabama offense tonight?
    1. Keys for each team
      1. Clemson
        1. Deshaun Watson must have another big Championship game.
          1. With Alabama boasting a stout defense against the run, Watson’s ability to create outside the pocket and his ability to throw down the field will be critical.
            1. Watson leads the Power 5 with 63 completions through the air of 15-plus yards.
            2. 47% of the plays that have gone 15+ yards on Alabama have come through the air (2nd most in Power 5).
        2. Deshaun Watson must protect the ball.
          1. Watson has thrown 17 INT’s this year.
          2. Alabama’s defense has 11 touchdowns so far.
      2. Alabama
        1. Sack and hurry Watson, forcing him to have to make quick decisions..
          1. Alabama is 2nd in FBS in sacks (50)
          2. Alabama is 2nd nationally in pressure rate at 42%.
        2. Protect your quarterback.
          1. If Alabama has a weakness, it is the interior offensive line.  Clemson has superior pass rushers.
          2. Hurts is only completing 31% of his passes when he gets pressured, while he is completing 74% when he’s kept in a clean pocket.
    1. Players to watch
      1. One offensive
        1. Clemson – Mike Williams – The 6’3’’ 225 WR will give Alabama’s secondary fits as they traditionally struggle against big physical WR’s.
        2. Alabama – Jalen Hurts – with the focus on Bo Scarborough, Hurts will need to use his ability to scramble and make plays.
      1. One defensive
        1. Clemson – Christian Wilkins – Excellent pass rusher, has 3.5 sacks on the season.
        2. Alabama – Jonathan Allen – 8.5 sacks, 15 QB hurries, a blocked kick and 2 defensive touchdowns.
    1. X-factor (s)
      1. Clemson – Dexter Lawrence – must get to the QB.  He has gotten pressure on the opposing QB 46 times this season.
      2. Alabama – O.J. Howard – had a huge championship game last year, especially when sent in motion.  Expect Alabama to use him more again tonight to try to create mismatches.  .
    1. Predictions
      1. This one should be a classic for sure.  I give the offensive edge to Clemson, while Alabama gets the defensive edge.
        1. Clemson 17 – Alabama 15.

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