Storyline: It’s finally here! The national championship game pitting the Clemson Tigers versus the Alabama Crimson Tide. Both revolve around star players on offense but there is more to these two teams than Deshaun Watson and Derrick Henry. They are both diverse offensively and both can make big plays in the passing game. While people will be talking about the offenses, it’s the defenses that will determine who wins this game. Both teams play solid defense, especially Bama. I think this will be a great game. Here are my three keys for each team.
Clemson Tigers Keys
1. Pass Pro: Clemson needs to block up Alabama’s talented front, especially on medium and long down situations. The Tigers have one of the best offensive lines in the country led by senior Eric Mac Lain. They are physical and they can get after it. They will need to play above their ability tonight for Clemson to win this game.
2. Watson Needs to be a Dual Threat: Clemson cannot win this game if Deshaun Watson doesn’t make plays both as a runner and a passer. He needs to be the best player on the field tonight for the Tigers to win.
3. Get Hats to the Ball: Clemson will need to get multiple hats to the ball if they want to stop Derrick Henry. They have to finish him on first contact because if he breaks tackles, he’ll break big runs.
Alabama Crimson Tide Keys
1. Jake Coker Needs to Play Well: Clemson will focus on stopping Derrick Henry so the focus will be on Jake Coker. Look for Alabama to come out throwing the ball early like they did against Michigan State. Coker has to play well and make some key throws early. He cannot turn the ball over.
2. Keep Watson in the Pocket: Alabama cannot allow Deshaun Watson to run around and extend plays. The Tide need to maintain rush lane integrity and keep Watson in the pocket. The Tide also stop Clemson’s quarterback run game. Watson is a factor on designed running plays as well.
3. Don’t Forget About Gallman: Clemson running back Wayne Gallman is a good back and he could be the X Factor in this game if he gets off to a good start. Bama needs to gap control the line of scrimmage and keep Gallman in check. If they don’t, they could be in for a long night trying to stop Watson and Gallman.
Prediction: Alabama 31 Clemson 28: I think this will be a great game. Both teams will make big plays and it’ll be a back and forth afdair. It’s hard to pick against Nick Saban and the Tide in games like this. They have too much talent and they are too well coached. They’ve been there before. That’s why I’m picking the Tide to win national championship number 15.