NCAA CFP Championship

By Ian Shimizu, Reporter

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On January 11, the College National Championship takes place. 1.Clemson (14-0) plays 2. Alabama (13-1).  The game features Heisman winner Derrick Henry and Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson. The game also features 2 of the top 10 defenses.

 

Facts about the Game:

 

Clemson has struggled against Alabama head to head, with Alabama going 12-3 and winning the last 12 against the Tigers. Clemson has to go all the way back to 1905 (longer than the Cubs last world series win) to remember when they last won head to head. The most recent meeting was in 2008, when Alabama won the season opener 34-10 while holding Clemson to only 188 yards. However, Clemson comes in obviously much better than they were in 2008.

 

The Biggest Mismatch:

 

Clemson is ranked 126 out of 127 in terms of special teams. Alabama is ranked 26th in special teams and Cyrus Jones showed us he is a threat last week with a punt return touchdown. He is averaging 13 yards per punt return and has 4 returning touchdowns this year. Alabama could easily score a return touchdown which would help them out greatly.

 

Alabama’s biggest fear:

 

Alabama has struggled against dual threat quarterbacks under Nick Saban, most notably falling to Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, and Nick Marshall. Deshaun Watson is obviously one of the biggest dual threats there can be. However, no dual threats have beaten Alabama is the championship game, mostly because they haven’t faced a legit one. Watson has rushed for at least 100 yards in 4 of his last 5. The key for Bama will be stopping him from racking up rushing yards. But we know that Nick Saban is a good game planner. He should limit, but not eliminate, Watson’s rushing yards.

 

Clemson’s biggest fear:

 

Derrick Henry. While Clemson’s defense has been great, they should fit in with every other team in being unable to stop Henry. The Heisman Winner has scored a ridiculous 25 touchdowns this year, 8 more than Mark Ingram’s season high at Bama. Last week we saw Michigan State focus their game plan on him, yet he still rushed for 2 touchdowns. That also opened up the passing game, which resulted in Coker completing 25-30 passes and 2 touchdowns. The key for Clemson will be to find a balanced game plan between stopping the run and the pass while not allowing Derrick Henry to have too big of a game.

 

  Predictions: Nick Saban has won 4 national titles including 3 with Alabama and another win would place him 2nd for coaching titles just one behind legendary coach Bear Bryant. Expect Derrick Henry to have a big game and Deshaun Watson to struggle through the air and get harassed by an elite Alabama defensive line and the best red zone defense in the nation. My prediction is that he will throw for 150-160 yards and run for around 65, recording two touchdowns. Derrick Henry will get 110 yards and two touchdowns. Jake Coker will continue his accurate passing throwing for 230 yards and a touchdown. Gallman will have trouble against the best rushing defense in the nation. Expect him to go for no more than 80 scrimmage yards. Unlike a lot of the other big bowl games this year, I think this one stays close. In the end, I think Saban gets his 5th title.

 

     

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