Well, it has all come down to this. Alabama and Clemson will face off on Monday, January 11th at 8:30 in Glendale, Arizona. Alabama is a 6 point favorite, playing in their 6th National Championship under coach Nick Saban.
Much in the tradition under Saban, Alabama wears teams down with a methodical running game. Powered by their offensive line, running back Derrick Henry captured the Heisman Trophy (only Alabama's second) and the SEC rushing yard record previously held by Herschel Walker. Quarterback Jake Coker manages the offense; the transfer from Florida State has done just enough without doing anything brilliant. Alabama's biggest strength lies on the defensive side of the ball, flaunting the best front seven in all of college football, which is just how Saban prefers his teams; pound them on offense and stomp them on defense. Unofficially, the Crimson Tide has 15 National championships as, for years before the current playoff system or BCS, there were multiple polls that determined who hoisted the trophy.
The Clemson Tigers are the one remaining unbeaten team in all the land. Coach Dabo Swinney has Clemson in long-awaited territory, vying for the Tigers' second national title. Coach Swinney played for Alabama as a college athlete and attained one of those 15 National titles whilst there. His team is led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, who finished third amongst Heisman voting. In the vein on Cam Newton, Watson offers the dual threat of running and throwing -- a dynamic piece of Clemson's fast paced offense. Running back Wayne Gallman completes the up-tempo spread attack, as he and Watson set an Orange Bowl record when both rushed for over 100 yards. Where Alabama tries to ground and pound, Clemson tries to run past with their very athletic skill positions. On the defensive side, the Tigers are no slouch, led by All-American defensive end Shaq Lawson, who, by all accounts, is headed to to the NFL and a very lucrative future. Their defense is in the top 25 as a unit and will need to be hitting on all cylinders to stop Alabama's tough offense.
With each team obliterating Oklahoma and Michigan State in their semi-final games, this stands to be a great matchup of conflicting styles. History favors Alabama and Saban, but Swinney is not one for tradition. All I know is that my eyes will be watching ESPN on Monday for what should be one hell of a game.
Pop Prediction: Clemson 38 - Alabama 35