2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Preview

January 9, 2017

It’s not often that you get a rematch in any sport, let alone college football, which up until three seasons ago had its final game chosen by computers and sportswriters.

But in 2016 and so far 2017, rematches are all the rage.

Alabama and Clemson squared off in the 2016 College Football Playoff final and it was an entertaining game, which has everyone pretty excited about round two tonight. Will it be revenge for the Tigers or validation a second time for the Crimson Tide?

Before I give you my prediction to that answer, let’s take a minute to congratulate the person that will ultimately take away the prize money from the Von Hugendong Bowl Mania group. My buddy Taylor, who got out to an early lead on day 1 and essentially wrapped things up by the middle of January 2, is guaranteed to be the top placing entry among paying participants. Congratulations to you Taylor, and be sure to reach out to me about doing weekly picks next season!

Since the game kicks off in less than two hours and the major networks have already beat the hell out of covering this game, I’ll be brief. But here are my thoughts on the 2017 College Football Playoff final.

2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game

#1 Alabama vs. #2 Clemson (Monday, 8:30 PM ET – ESPN)

Don’t let Clemson’s 31-0 drubbing of Ohio State mask the fact that the Tigers allowed 35 points against Virginia Tech in the ACC title game. The Buckeyes came out in the semifinal game with one of the worst offensive gameplans that I’ve seen in quite some time from a team that was supposedly one of the most talented in the country. Clemson deserved to win the game, but they also benefited from poor playcalling. Keep in mind that Deshaun Watson still threw two interceptions to only one touchdown and the entire offense had just 470 total yards.

Alabama’s squad, meanwhile, did what it does best against a team that was going to try to beat the Crimson Tide at its own game. Nick Saban’s defense allowed fewer than 200 total yards and just 44 yards on the ground. The Crimson Tide were methodical on offense, allowing the running game to take over and dominate both the pace of the game and the field position. While Ohio State opted to run just 23 times in the semifinal, the first time all season they attempted fewer than 40 running plays in a game, Alabama will almost surely double that number. And more importantly, Clemson’s defense will have to stop it.

This game may not be nearly as exciting as the 2016 version. Alabama has made it blatantly clear that Jalen Hurts doesn’t have to be a hero to win this game. Coach Saban is going to run the ball until someone proves they can stop that, which hasn’t happened yet this season. Dabo Swinney is the right coach for Clemson right now, because his energy will get the Tigers up for the start of this game and as the underdog they need that. But when the clock hits all zeroes in the fourth quarter, the world will know the University of Alabama as back-to-back College Football Playoff champions.

My Pick: 31-21 Alabama

Bowl Mania Confidence Points: 37

Thanks again to everyone who read Around The Corn, made guest picks or promoted the blog in any way throughout the season. Like many of you, I’ll be a bit gloomy at the end of the night knowing that there will be no more college football for the next eight months, but the end of the season also means the beginning of what always turns out to be an exciting calendar year in sports.

Enjoy the game!

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