Clemson vs Alabama (Version 5.0?)
Alabama vs Clemson, Version 5.0, coming to a college football playoff field near you this January. After four straight seasons of facing off in the playoffs, both teams look to secure their spot in this years field, and the odds say that it is a very likely outcome. Currently, at SuperbookUSA at the Westgate, Alabama is -300 to make the playoffs while Clemson is a whooping -500 to make the playoff field. How will they get their though? What do they have to go through to get back? Lets take a look at a few of the variables these two powerhouses have to navigate through in order to return to the top of the college football mountain.
Alabama - The Tide come into 2019 with the 44th most difficult (or easy?) schedule this season. They open the season up in Atlanta against Duke, fortunately for Bama they are 17-0 in their last 17 season openers, as well as 9-0 in neutral site openers. Following the Duke game, Bama faces New Mexico State at home, then heads to South Carolina to face the Gamecocks. Bama is 15-0 when opening up the SEC conference schedule on the road, and Nick Saban will likely have payback on his mind from their last trip to Columbia in 2010 as the Tide went down 35-21. Following their trip to Columbia, the Tide head back home to face Southern Miss and Ole Miss for two seemingly easy wins. After this two game home stand, Bama then travels to College Station, to face Texas A&M (current line is Alabama -14.5), which will be their first serious threat of the season, though it is very unlikely they will fall here, as the Aggies are replacing seven starters on defense and the Tide will be coming off a bye week and Saban will be facing off against a former assistant of his. Saban is a perfect 16-0 against former assistants with an average score of 40-14. Next up on schedule is Tennessee, who the Tide dropped 58 on last season, which was the most scored by any team in series history, followed by a homecoming date against a struggling Arkansas squad that is projected to finish last in the SEC West (Bama is 16-0 in homecoming games). With another bye week following this game, Saban will then get his team ready to play their biggest game of the season to date, coming off another bye week, against LSU, who will likely be top 10 in even preseason poll. Bama is currently a 16 point favorite in this spot. After arguably their hardest matchup of the season, they will head to Mississippi State to face the Bulldogs, which should supply absolutely zero resistance against Alabama improving to 10-0 on the season. Following this date in Starkvegas, the Tide head home for their easiest game of the season, against Western Carolina, in a spot they should be favored by at least 45 points. Finally, Bama caps off the regular season by heading to Auburn, to take on a Tiger team who defeated them, 26-14, in their last trip to Jordan Hare. Though this loss ultimately had no affect on Bama winning that years title, Nick Saban will no doubt have revenge on his teams mind, as they did in 2018, defeating Auburn 52-21 in Tuscaloosa. If Alabama coasts to another 12-0 regular season, you cant count on the result of the SEC Championship game being irrelevant yet again, as they will likely get a playoff spot even with a loss. This Alabama team is absolutely loaded, with much more talent and experience than last season, headlined by QB Tua Tagovailoa, who by many is hailed as the greatest active QB in college football. Though Tua was a runaway favorite to win the Heisman last season, he wound up losing the award to Kyler Murray, which was the beginning of his postseason spiral as many would say he cost the Tide a National Championship with uncharacteristic mental errors. One thing for Tua that will play in his favor is that he will come into this season fully healthy, something he has not been able to say for some time.
Clemson - The Tigers, the defending National Champions, coming off a sparkling 15-0 record in 2018, will be favored by no less than 17 points in ANY game this coming season, which points to the ease of their #66 ranked schedule strength. Dabo and his troops will start their title defense against a rebuilding Georgia Tech team to open the season on a Thursday night, followed by a home game against Texas A&M, who the Tigers nearly lost to in last years game at College Station. Lots has changed since that matchup, with no factor more important than their improvement at the QB position from Kelly Bryant to Trevor Lawrence, who some say is the best QB in college football after his performance to close last season. Though just a freshman last year, Lawrence looked like a surefire NFL star while dismantling the Tide defense en route to a title. He should have no trouble in this spot, as Clemson should roll the Aggies as a repayment for last years controversial win. Following this, the Tigers head to Syracuse to face the Orange, who dealt the Dabo his last road loss, two years ago. Clemson will be well prepared for this game, and weary, as they know Syracuse has nearly had their number the last two seasons. Look for the Tigers to paste Cuse in this spot. After the game in Northern New York, Clemson heads home to face Charlotte, in the first meeting between the two schools and then follows it up with a trip to Chapel Hill for a matchup against the struggling Tar Heels before gliding into a bye week. Coming off the bye, the Tigers will then take on Florida State at home, whom they defeated 59-10 last year, which was the biggest home beatdown for FSU in their school history. Looking past FSU, Clemson will face, in order, Louisville on the road, Boston College on homecoming, Wofford, at NC State, Wake Forest before hitting their bye week. Coming out of the bye week, Clemson will finish their regular season as they always do, at South Carolina, where they will look to beat the Cocks for the 6th straight time before heading to the ACC Championship game, where they will likely be a likely 3 touchdown favorite to dispatch their ACC Coastal opponent, who would be their last hurdle into the college football playoff.
Alabama current odds - over/under 11.5 wins (+140 over), +250 to win the CFB Playoff.
Clemson current odds - over/under 11.5 wins (-110 over), +225 to win the CFB Playoff.
What makes the rematch so likely? These programs have the two BEST QB's in the country and it is not even close, as well as future #1 picks in the NFL Draft. They also have the two best coaches in the country with Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney behind the wheel, who, collectively, hold the last four college football national championships which will become the last five national championships when we revisit this in January 2020. While most are getting tired of this rivalry, we cannot discount the fact that these two programs are heads and shoulders above the college football world, and instead, we should embrace the two, for giving us the best college football matchup that can possibly be made, five years running. Embrace the greatness! PS; the college football season starts in just 33 days!