The Clemson Tigers got very close last season to pulling off the upset over the Alabama Crimson Tide and winning the national championship. There were a couple of pivotal plays, including a successful Alabama onside kick and also a kickoff return for a touchdown, that burned Dabo Swinney’s team. But now they believe they can take the next step, as these teams meet on Monday at 8 PM ET Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for all the marbles.
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Clemson vs Alabama – NCAAF Betting Line:
In the college football betting odds posted on this game by the folks at VietBet on this championship game, Alabama is favored by a touchdown:
Alabama Crimson Tide -7 (+100)
Clemson Tigers +7 (-120)
Over 50.5 points -110
Under 50.5 points -110
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Clemson vs Alabama – Why Clemson Can Win:
In this story, we are going to make the case for the Tigers.
There were times when Clemson sputtered a bit on offense this season, but one thing that was rather constant throughout the year was their ability to play on the defensive side of the football. Certainly, teams with tremendous athletic talent were able to move the ball against them, but that’s going to be the case with just about anyone. Look what they accomplished against Ohio State, a team that, like Alabama, has a quarterback, often operating with a read-option approach, who primarily runs the football and has a problem it downfield through the air. They held the Buckeyes to just 215 yards of total offense, and a low-quality defense just doesn’t do that against one of the top scoring teams in the country. So you know these guys are prime-time.
We know that Jalen Hurts has stepped in as a freshman, cold, and literally taken control of his Alabama attack. But it can be argued that he hasn’t necessarily maximizes what is at his disposal. The two main wide receivers – ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley – not to mention tight end O.J. Howard, will all be playing in the NFL, yet none of them has as much as 850 yards receiving this season. The Crimson Tide ranked 70th in the nation in passing offense, so it is not as if they send a full-scale, double-barreled attack at everybody. Sure, Hurts can, pardon the pun, “hurt” you if you give him enough time. But Clemson does not appear to be the kind of team that is going to give him that kind of time. The Tigers have 49 sacks on the season, putting them among the nation’s leaders third, in fact), and this is most definitely a culture of rushing the passer. Look at what Vic Beasley has done for the Atlanta Falcons the season, for example.
Clemson has lost only once this season, a one-point decision to Pittsburgh, and even though we would have to admit that they may not have been as sharp offensively this season, they are still stacked at the wide receiver spot. And guess what – Mike Williams, who was out practically the entire year in 2015, is back, and with a vengeance. He caught 91 passes for 1270 yards going into the game against Ohio State, and he is very high on everybody’s draft board. When you and what he can do to what Deshaun Watson can get out of Jordan Leggett, Deon Cain (19.1 yards per catch), Artavis Scott and others, this Alabama secondary might be tested more than it has all season long. And we realize that Wayne Gallman has not had the glittering stats he did last season, but he is present, and healthy at the moment, so he has to be accounted for. Let’s not forget that this is a team that went against a mighty Alabama defense last year and rolled up 550 yards and 40 points. Alabama have allowed about half that many yards, and less than half that many points, on average, on their way to the championship game.
It is imperative that VietBet patrons realize that Watson is much more dynamic than Hurts; for one thing, he threw for more than 4000 yards and has accounted for 46 touchdowns on his own. With almost 600 yards rushing, he fills in the gap quite nicely behind Gallman, so Clemson is arguably more well-rounded offensively.
No, we would not call them as dominant a defensive unit as Alabama, although one could say that schools in the ACC, on balance, might have been a little more imaginative, varied and wide-open offensively. Having to replace seven starters from the year before, Brent Venables did another great job, bringing this team in at #8 overall and fourth best in passing efficiency defense. They don’t wilt against the run either, allowing just 3.5 yards per carry.
They can get enough stops to keep this one very very close – not only within the impost, but perhaps enough for the straight-up victory. The only proviso we add is that Watson, who has been intercepted 17 times, has to keep things under relative control, considering the dozen defensive touchdowns Alabama has scored this season.
By Charles Jay
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