Alabama and clemson predictions

Alabama vs. Clemson predictions: SN experts pick a CFP national champion

No. 1 Alabama (14-0) meets No. 2 Clemson (14-0) in the College Football Playoff championship on Jan. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

It’s a chance for Alabama win back-to-back national championships. This would be the sixth national championship for Nick Saban at Alabama and seventh overall, which would surpass Bear Bryant for the most all time. Clemson, meanwhile, can win a second national championship in three years under coach Dabo Swinney.

This is the fourth installment in their Playoff series. The teams have split the last two championship meetings, while Alabama won last year’s semifinal.

With that in mind, Sporting News’ staff makes its predictions.

Alabama 34, Clemson 31

“Alabama will get off to a fast start, because that’s what it has done all season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Tide have a double-digit lead heading into the second quarter. Just when viewers think about turning off the television, however, Trevor Lawrence will rally the Tigers once he settles in. It will be tight, just like the other national championship matchups between the two, but Tua Tagovailoa will lead the game-sealing drive in the fourth quarter. Those who turn this off will miss another instant classic.” — Bill Bender

Alabama 34, Clemson 30

“Alabama and Clemson have made it this far using largely the same formula: Crushing opponents on defense and blistering them on offense. Both teams have dominant defensive front sevens, talented running backs, fast receivers and next-level quarterbacks. The biggest factor in this game could be how much the defenses rattle Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence in the pocket, and how well the secondaries can defend them. For now, that battle seems to favor Tagovailoa and the Tide. This will be a close game, but Alabama will make the big play — whether on offense or defense — when it matters.” — Zac Al-Khateeb

Alabama 27, Clemson 20

“Alabama’s defense stymied a freshman quarterback in last year’s title game, picking off Jake Fromm twice. Trevor Lawrence is better than Fromm and certainly looked ready for the big stage against Notre Dame, but he’s still never seen a defense like Bama’s. Tua Tagovailoa will continue to step up when needed most, and the Tide’s powerful rushing attack will help them salt this game away late.” — Matt Lutovsky

Clemson 36, Alabama 33, 2 OT

“This epic duel between Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa will conjure up memories of Vince Young and Matt Leinart. Sure, both defenses are loaded, but there’s too much firepower with each QB’s backs and receivers to instead believe the offenses will rule in the end. The Tigers make Tua a tad more uncomfortable with their pressure when it counts most. while the Tide struggle to rattle his freshman counterpart. Look for Lawrence’s go-to guy, Justyn Ross, to score the walk-off game-winner against his home-state team.” — Vinnie Iyer

Alabama 28, Clemson 14

I’m not sold on the Tigers as a team, and I’m really not sold on the idea they’re an overwhelming powerhouse. Their league didn’t produce a single worthy challenger to the Tigers’ throne, then went 5-5 in bowl games. The Tigers blew out Notre Dame in the semifinal, and that was impressive, but they’ve been just good enough on a lot of occasions. I expect Alabama to put a lot of heat on freshman QB Trevor Lawrence and that it’ll be another championship night for the Crimson Tide. — Mike DeCourcy

Alabama 31, Clemson 17

“Through all the typical chaos and, late in the year, through all the debate around the College Football Playoff, we knew one thing about the 2018 college football season to be true: Alabama was and is the best team in the country. With a healthy Tua Tagovailoa, that remains so. Clemson, of course, has been regarded as the second best, even after it almost slipped at home against Syracuse. But for the same reasons Bama has been No. 1 all season, it will be No. 1 when the Santa Clara dust settles.” — Tadd Haislop

Alabama 30, Clemson 17

“It’s amazing that Nick Saban has gone this long and been this successful without a real playmaker at the quarterback position. Just think of some of the names: AJ McCarron, Greg McElroy, Blake Sims, Blake Barnett. Those guys could all make a play when it was needed, but with with future first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa, the Tide have an explosive playmaker at the helm. Alabama can score how it wants, when it wants — just look at its CFP matchup with Oklahoma for evidence — and the defense is so very, very good, with Quinnen Williams anchoring their D-line. This one will be close for a while, but the Tide will roll late.” — Joe Rivera

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