Clemson and Alabama played an epic national championship game last season, and while the Crimson Tide came out on top, the Tigers stayed inside the point spread as 6.5-point underdogs in a 45-40 loss.
This year, the betting odds and total are almost exactly the same, depending on the sports book. It sets up for just as thrilling a contest.
The Tide were a stellar 10-4 against the spread this season and 6-8 on the over/under. Clemson went 7-7 ATS and won straight-up both times it was an underdog (albeit as 1-point dogs) against Louisville and Ohio State. The Tigers’ first four games went under but the over has hit in seven of their last 10 and four of their last five.
Here’s everything you need to bet the 2017 National Championship Game between Alabama and Clemson.
2017 National Championship Game betting: Ohio State-Clemson odds, picks
Betting odds: Alabama -6
Moneyline: Alabama -230/Clemson +190
Alabama opened at -6.5 at most sports books right after the College Football Playoff semifinals and has stayed there in the eight days leading up to the game. The Mirage in Las Vegas is showing Tide -7, though it’s one of the few books with that line. Alabama was a touchdown favorite at many books for a short time since the line opened, but came off that quickly thanks to a flood of Clemson money.
The total opened at a consensus of 52 but has come down to 51 or 50.5 in most spots. Last year, these two teams crushed the total of 50.5 in a 45-40 Alabama win.
UPDATE: Money has come in on Clemson on Monday, moving the line down to Alabama -6 at most books. MGM is still hanging a 7, but that’s the only one left in Las Vegas.
More than 60 percent of spread bets and 72 percent of the money are on the Crimson Tide at William Hill sports books, but 90 percent of money line tickets are on the Tigers.
Pick: If there’s any quarterback in the country that could beat Alabama, it’s probably Deshaun Watson. His 478 total yards in last year’s game were a sight to behold, and he played a near perfect game. Yet it wasn’t enough.
Recency bias, thanks to a blowout of a flawed Ohio State team, has changed the perception of this Clemson team — one that barely beat N.C. State, lost to Pitt and hasn’t looked as sharp as it did in 2015. The point spread on this one is probably correct and doesn’t reflect that bias, though.
Alabama’s secondary is banged up, and Watson, with all his weapons, should put some points up. It probably won’t be enough, but it will keep Clemson very much in the game. We’ll take the over and lean toward Clemson with the points.
National Championship Game preview: Alabama-Clemson
Alabama-Clemson keys to the game, from SECCountry’s Marq Burnett.
5. Sark attack
Nick Saban booted the Lane Train in favor of a Sark Attack. For those of you living under a rock, Lane Kiffin won’t coach Alabama’s offense in the national championship game.
Steve Sarkisian, who Saban hired to replace Kiffin, will step in early and lead the Crimson Tide against Clemson. That means instead of having to wait until next season to see how Saban and Sarkisian will interact on the sideline, we’ll get a crash course on Monday night.
Sarkisian hasn’t called plays in more than a year, so it’ll be interesting to see how the offense flows. Saban and the players have talked all week about how things won’t change much, but don’t be surprised if we see a new wrinkle or two against the Tigers.
4. Alabama needs to run the ball
Sarkisian’s first order of business should be to give Clemson a steady diet of Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris and Joshua Jacobs.
In other words, run the dang ball. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts didn’t play his best game against Washington, and the offense relied heavily on the running game, particularly Scarbrough. Scarbrough had the best game of his career against the Huskies, running for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Alabama must create offensive balance to take pressure off Hurts. That starts with running the ball and setting up play-action to keep Clemson’s talented defense guessing.
3. Calling all playmakers
Saban talked during his Wednesday news conference about how Alabama needs to get more playmakers involved in the offense. Outside of Scarbrough, no other skill player gained more than 50 yards against Washington.
O.J. Howard was the leading receiver with four catches. No other player had more than one, according to the final stat book.
It took a complete team effort for Alabama to beat Clemson last season. That may be the case again this year, which means the Tide’s offense must play its best game of the season.
2. Time to prove it
Alabama’s defense clearly has a chip on its shoulder. Clemson amassed 40 points and 550 yards of offense in the title game last season.
Watson threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns to just one interception. He also ran for 73 yards.
If Alabama’s defense wants to avenge last season’s performance and show it’s one of Saban’s best ever, it will have to stop Watson and Co. on Monday.
1. Chasing history
Alabama is one win from becoming the first team in college football history to finish a season 15-0. This group also would be just the second team during Saban’s tenure to finish without a loss (2009).
We’ve talked all year about how this is potentially Saban’s best team at Alabama. Now it’s time for the Tide to make history.