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12-31-17 MFB Sugar Bowl Head Coach Press Conference Nick Saban Photo by Kent Gidley

While Vegas favors Alabama by a field goal, most fans from both sides think that Clemson has a slight advantage on paper. Clemson is the number one seed and the “attacking” national champion (in Coach Swinney’s words), while Alabama is the blue blooded dynasty looking for revenge.

 

Both teams pass the 50% blue chip recruit threshold to win a national championship – so even though Alabama has recruited slightly better than Clemson, the talent differential is minimal.

 

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has been an underwhelming replacement for Lane Kiffin, whom is performing spectacularly at #theFAU.

 

Jalen Hurts has thrown 15 scores and only one interception to pair with 768 yards and 8 scores on the ground, yet there was talk of freshman backup Tua Tagovailoa pushing Hurts for the starting job this year.

 

Junior running backs Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough are the main running backs, and they along with Jalen Hurts are the three players with over 100 rushing attempts. Sophomore Josh Jacobs is also the third ‘co-starter’, and talented freshman Najee Harris isn’t far behind the other three.

 

The Tide’s main receiving threat is Calvin Ridley – he has 55 catches and 896 yards receiving, while no other player has more than 14 catches or 244 yards receiving. The 23-year old true junior could be a first round pick this spring and is Hurts’ favorite target.

 

Alabama’s defense lacks many of the stars of the past two matchups with the Tigers, and their defense is not as suffocating as previous Tide defenses were. Alabama is healthier than they were a month ago, but it may not be enough to go head to head with Clemson.

 

This is arguably the first time that Alabama has looked mortal this decade, while Clemson’s predicted drop off has yet to come. There is more confidence surrounding the Tigers this time than in the previous two meetings, but it will still be a tough game down to the wire.

 

If Clemson wins, this could symbolize the official changing of the guard as the premier dynasty in college football.

 

Prediction: Clemson 42 Alabama 38