Short and sweet: Here’s your official prediction thread after much agonizing. You’ve got three hours to unleash any final pathos, predictions, whodunnits, who wins, and why.
Even better, is you share this post on Twitter and/or Facebook, we’re randomly selecting one winner to take home tonight’s CFP 2018 prize: An Alabama-embossed College Football Playoff game ball. All you have to do is share and tag @wilson_football.
Here we go:
Parker: This is going to be a low-scoring ball-game. I expect Alabama to come out with the same game-plan from last year, except DeShaun Watson, Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett, etc. aren't suiting up for the Tigers this time. Both teams will scrape together a few drives here and there, but Alabama's ability to strum up explosive plays and their huge advantage in the punting and kicking game make the difference. Tide wins 23-17. Bonus Analysis: Hunter Renfrow won't do a damn thing with the attention on him.
CB: Many Clemson partisans out there point to the Tigers 14-6 win over Auburn as a reason why the ACC Champs will win the Sugar Bowl over Alabama. But that game was played a long time ago and Kerryon Johnson was in street clothes. A better comparison might just be Boston College who hung with Clemson for three quarters before breaking down in the fourth. Quarterback Kelly Bryant tends to make mistakes when he is flustered in the pocket, especially when rushed off the edge and he cannot get outside. Advantage: ‘Bama. The Tigers defensive line is very good as are the corners. But the middle of the field (safeties and middle LBs) can be exploited. Both punting and kicking for the Tigers are atrocious. ALABAMA 27 Clemson 21
Brent: I think Alabama wins by two possessions — somewhere in the realm of 32-24 ‘Bama. Alabama will run the ball against Clemson easily, despite some lapses in offensive consistency. Meanwhile the Tide defense limits Clemson to just a few long possessions.
Josh: This thing is incredibly close statistically. For some reason, folks seem to be missing that Alabama actually has had the better offense and the better defense in raw stats, and the better offense with a comparable defense in opponent-adjusted stats. Last season, Alabama came into the Clemson game having been held to 17 offensive points by Washington and earlier scoring only 10 vs. LSU. Somehow, they still managed to find 31 points vs. Clemson with explosive plays, and it took an incredible fourth quarter by Watson, Williams, and Leggett to overcome it. With those guys in the NFL, look for the Tide's vastly superior kicking game to be the difference. Alabama 23, Clemson 17.
Erik: Clemson has not statistically faced an offensive line this good since, well, last year at this time. And even then, the Tide were still able to hang 31 points on the Tigers. This is a better Alabama offense. Clemson has seen Alabama before, but that 2016 Alabama offense was not this offense: That offense is the 2017 Clemson offense. The Tigers will make their share of stops. But CU is, at its heart, a one-dimensional offense that has to win by controlling the ball and making plays on the perimeter and close to the line of scrimmage. That killed Alabama last year, it will doom Clemson this year, as will the tremendous Alabama special teams advantage, which you can’t help but think will matter late for a third straight year. Call it 29-17 Alabama, behind five Andy Pappanastos field goals.