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Alabama vs Clemson Over/Under Prediction and Prop Bets

Clemson Tigers(13-1) @ Alabama Crimson Tide(14-0)

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium. Tampa, FL
  • When: January 9, 2017 8:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Clemson +6 (Even) vs Alabama -6 (-120)
  • Moneyline: Clemson (+185) vs Alabama (-225)
  • Over / Under: Over 51 (-110) vs Under 51 (-110)

Before the New Year many cash players considered Alabama a low-stress, small-payoff wager to repeat as national champions. If anyone was a serious threat to upset them, it was Ohio State. Clemson with its nimble QB and fancy playbook did not even seem likely to upset OSU, let alone earn respect from odds-makers if the final somehow became a 2016 rematch.

But as The Monkees sang, “that was then, this is now.” On December 31st, the Clemson Tigers destroyed the proud Buckeyes 31-0 in the CFP Semifinal in Glendale. The Scarlet and Gray offense, as feared as any in the FBS, managed just over 200 yards. Deshaun Watson ran for two TDs and passed for another as the Tigers scored in all four quarters.

Meanwhile, Alabama escaped a woeful semi-final performance by QB Jalen Hurts to get by Washington 24-7, with help of two rushing TDs and a pick-six. Clemson looked better beating OSU than the Tide in beating the Huskies, but that may be the tiniest problem in Tuskaloosa.

Always-flighty OC Lane Kiffin has had one foot off the boat, causing dissent in the ranks of a Tide coaching staff already fighting an offensive slump. Nick Saban – in an almost-unprecedented move considering the circumstances – fired Kiffin after the Washington game and installed former USC head coach Steve Sarkisian in the role.

Sarkisian has the pedigree. But the ensuing controversy has made Alabama look suddenly shaky headed into a national title game, and has cast the point spread at only (-6) for the #1-ranked defending champs.

Though the biggest story might involve Saban’s assistant coaches and the uproar in Crimson-land, the result of Monday night’s clash will more likely come down to the abilities of head coach Dabo Sweeney and his QB to manage game situations.

Alabama vs Clemson PreviewIf Sweeney can keep Watson’s spurs from jangling and the Tigers win the turnover battle, we could see a surprise victor in Tampa. But of equal interest to bettors is the O/U line, which offers value in taking the under for a high-pressure tilt matching a hot defense (Clemson) with an even better one (Alabama).

Sign-up to the Bovada Sportsbook and get a 50% cash bonus for up to $250 to use to wager on the 2017 National Championship. There are 50+ markets to bet on for this match-up, including dozens of props.

Don’t fall in the trap, Tigers

Late in the 1985 NFL season, Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins dive-bombed the Chicago Bears’ all-time great defense, scoring 38 points and knocking the Monsters of the Midway from the undefeated ranks. But when other teams mimicked Miami’s wide-open tactics in the playoffs, the Bears shuffled to a Super Bowl win. Superior teams adjust – parroted play-calling will not beat them.

The 2016-17 Crimson Tide defense has been legendary, with one exception – senior Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly gutting them for 400+ yards in September. Alabama won 48-43, but Kelly’s 10+ average YPA performance tempted coaches across the SEC and PAC-12 to open things up against the Tide’s NFL scout team-caliber secondary…with poor results.

In the CFP semifinal, Washington trailed by three in the 2nd quarter. But QB Jake Browning continued to throw on 1st and 2nd down, leading to Ryan Anderson’s interception for a TD which likely killed the Huskies’ chances. Alabama’s defense is so good that Kiffin’s, nay, Sarkisian’s offense must only put a couple of drives together to win – opposing turnovers and general mayhem take care of the rest.

The Clemson Tigers must not throw their Heisman-finalist QB to the wolves in the 1st half. Sweeney should rely on rushers like Wayne Galman, a swift junior RB who gained almost 100 yards against the Buckeyes on New Year’s Eve. Make 1st downs, or punt, and let Alabama make the big mistake. Protect your electric QB for a 4th-quarter winner.

That’s not easy for a coaching staff in 2016-17. Coaches often think “I missed my turn” when their offense fails to score, but against Alabama a (quality) punt is a good play. The Clemson defense is on fire after shutting out OSU, but they are not good enough to stop even a pedestrian SEC offense on a short field for 4 quarters.

It’s impossible for Clemson to lose the turnover battle and win. Missing potential gunners like Adrian Baker (knee, doubtful) may hurt, but Sweeney must trust in his punt team and make sure his offense doesn’t blunder against the ball-hawking Tide.

The O/U seems generous at 51, but it won’t be if the Tigers don’t play it smart.

Alabama – Sarkisian’s opening gambit?

In a sea of worry, the Crimson Tide can draw one positive from its change at OC. Newly anointed play-callers usually like to try a long bomb or two, and Sarkisian will not shrink from the moment.

Expect Alabama to take a few down-field shots early. Hurts may look for WRs ArDarius Stewart, who had 10 catches and a touchdown in the Iron Bowl, or Calvin Ridley who had a 52-yard catch in the SEC Championship.

But Hurts should be wary of senior Clemson DT Carlos Watkins, who sacked J.T. Barrett twice on Saturday.

Hurts’ totals and other Bovada prop bets

Bovada Sportsbook offers over 50 bets on the CFP championship, and MSB sees value in 2 props.

The O/U on total Jalen Hurts passing yards is 189.5, which is far too volatile a wager. But the freshman’s touchdown O/U is (1.5) in which the under has value. If the Tide are winning, they’ll run the ball in plus-territory. If they’re losing, that means the Clemson defense came to play. Either way, Hurts tallying one passing TD or less is a probability.

Also, a “no” proposition for “will either team score three unanswered times” offers sweet value at (+170). If Alabama scores to take a double-digit lead, they will try to slow things down and run clock. And it’s hard to imagine Clemson mounting three straight scoring drives without incident.

Take the under for a CFP payoff

MSB recommends the under (51) based on Alabama’s meager passing game, which managed 57 yards against the Huskies, meeting a Tiger defense roaring at the right time.

As for Clemson scoring 40+ and blowing out the O/U, don’t worry…they won’t. But a focused, vengeful #2 seed will shut down the ‘Bama offense for much of Monday night.

Place your O/U wager on the CFP Championship Game at Bovada.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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