It’s only been three years since the College Football Playoff was created, but in that short time one team has staked its claim to supremacy over the sport’s postseason: The Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0).
Under the careful management of head coach Nick Saban, and powered by a steady stream of NFL-caliber players, Alabama has secured a spot in the four-team Playoff every year so far. And while the 2015 edition saw the top-ranked Tide upset by Ohio State, Saban’s squad prevailed over last year’s postseason bracket to become national champions.
As defending champs, Alabama strung together an undefeated regular season – including yet another SEC Championship Game victory under Saban’s tenure. Upon reaching their third consecutive Playoff, the Tide rolled over an outclassed, but fourth-ranked Washington Huskies (12-2) team in a 24-7 game that was never really as close as the score would suggest.
All told, Alabama is riding a 26-game winning streak across regular season and postseason play, putting Saban in position to win his sixth National Championship. That would tie him with legendary Crimson Tide coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, while making it five titles in his last seven seasons (’09, ’11, ’12, ’15).
The only thing standing in Alabama’s way is a Clemson Tigers (13-1) team that pushed them to the limit in last year’s 45-40 title game thriller.
Head coach Dabo Sweeney has made the Playoff two out of three years, but while Saban is the common thread in the Tide’s dominance, the Tigers have been powered by star quarterback Deshaun Watson over that span.
In the last two years Watson has finished second on the big stage twice, first in last year’s title tilt, and again this season when he was named runner-up in the Heisman Trophy balloting. After scoring three touchdowns, one through the air and two more on the ground, in last weekend’s 31-0 rout over third-seeded Ohio State, Watson will undoubtedly be looking to complete his college career standing in the winner’s circle.
Having combined to allow just 7 points between their respective defenses in the Playoff semifinals, Alabama and Clemson don’t appear poised to reprise their previous shootout. On the other hand, the Tigers ranked 13th in the nation by scoring 39.5 points per game, while the Tide were 15th at 39.4 per game, so the scoreboard operator may be busy after all.
The Bovada Sportsbook has installed Alabama as 6-point favorites for Monday’s matchup. If the score resembles that of last year’s instant classic, the Tide would win the game but the Tigers would narrowly cover.
Additionally, Bovada has bettors covered with a bevy of game wagers and prop bets, so take a look below to see a few of the latest lines:
Moneyline: Clemson (+185) / Alabama (-225)
Over/Under: 51 (-110)
First Half: Alabama (-3.5)
Team to Score First: Clemson (+120) / Alabama (-160)
First Team to 10 Points: Clemson (+140) / Alabama (-190) / Neither (+7500)
Will the Game go to Overtime: Yes (+700) / No (-2000)
Total Passing Yards for Watson: Over 269.5 (-120) / Under 269.5 (-120)
Total Passing TDs for Watson: Over 2.5 (-120) / Under 2.5 (-120)