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Alabama vs. Clemson - 1/1/18 College Football Playoffs Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) at Clemson Tigers (12-1)

College Football: Monday, January 1, 2018 at 8:45 pm (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)

The Line: Clemson Tigers +3 -- Over/Under: 47 See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN

 The Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers meet Monday in the college football playoffs at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Alabama Crimson Tide hope to win at least 12 games for the 11th time in school history while reaching yet another national championship. The Alabama Crimson Tide have won 10 of their last 12 neutral site games. Jalen Hurts is completing 60.8 percent of his passes for 1,940 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception. Hurts has one touchdown pass in six of his last seven games. Calvin Ridley and Jerry Jeudy have combined for 1,140 receiving yards and five touchdowns while Cam Sims has 13 receptions. The Alabama Crimson Tide ground game is averaging 265.3 yards per contest, and Damien Harris leads the way with 906 yards and 11 touchdowns. Defensively, Alabama is allowing 11.5 points and 257.8 yards per game. Ronnie Harrison leads the Alabama Crimson Tide with 68 tackles, Raekwon Davis has 6.5 sacks and Levi Wallace has three interceptions. 

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Alabama vs. Clemson - 1/1/18 College Football Playoffs Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Clemson Tigers look to win at least 13 games for the third time in school history while reaching a third straight national championship. The Clemson Tigers have won four straight neutral site games. Kelly Bryant is completing 67.4 percent of his passes for 2,678 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. Bryant has one or less touchdown passes in 10 of his last 13 games. Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow have combined for 1,230 receiving yards and nine touchdowns while Ray-Ray McCloud has 46 receptions. The Clemson Tigers ground game is averaging 204 yards per contest, and Travis Etienne leads the way with 744 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively, Clemson is allowing 12.8 points and 277.9 yards per game. Kendall Joseph leads the Clemson Tigers with 86 tackles, Clelin Ferrell has 8.5 sacks and Trayvon Mullen has three interceptions.

The Crimson Tide are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in January, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall. The Tigers are 7-2-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, 10-1 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall. The under is 7-2-1 in Tigers last 10 games overall and the under is 5-2 in Crimson Tide last 7 games overall.

You could make a strong argument that the Alabama Crimson Tide shouldn't even be in this game after struggling down the stretch the way they did and getting outplayed by the Auburn Tigers. Alabama is also still banged up on the defensive side of the ball, something that doesn't help when playing a Clemson offense that's loaded with athletes. The difference for me in this game is Hurts against this Tigers defense. Hurts is simply not a difference maker at the quarterback position, and you need your signal caller to make plays to have success against this nasty Clemson defense. Alabama will not be able to line up and run it with consistent success if plays aren't made through the air. Say what you want about Kelly Bryant, but he has topped 200 passing yards each of his last three games and has combined for six touchdowns during that span, good enough to make defenses respect his ability. In a battle where both teams will have issues moving the ball, I side with Clemson due to the better QB play. I'll take the free field goal but will also be on the ML.

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