This Monday, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers will play each other in the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight year, and for the third year with the National Championship at stake. This is a matchup that many people were expecting in the offseason, and it should be no surprise that expectations have turned into reality as these are by far the two best teams in college football. With that being said, let’s take a look at what should be yet another exciting showdown between the Tide and the Tigers.
Tua Tagovailoa erased all doubts about his health with his performance in the Orange Bowl. Tua threw for more touchdowns than incompletions, making a statement that he may have deserved the Heisman more than Kyler Murray. If Tua plays that well on Monday, the Tide will have a great chance on becoming back to back champions. After all, Tua has a recent history of playing well in National Championship games.
Tua’s quarterback counterpart is also an extremely special one. Clemson’s freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence brought the Tigers to the next level when he won the starting job from Kelly Bryant. Lawrence’s poise and big arm guided Clemson through the regular season with ease, and they were on full display in the dismantling of Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, as Lawrence threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Lawrence needs to be just as sharp against Alabama if Clemson is going to topple the Tide.
The quarterback duel is not the only important matchup for Monday night’s game, however. Both Alabama and Clemson have monsterous receiving corps. Alabama’s unit consists of Biletnikoff winner Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith, and the speedster Jaylen Waddle. Clemson’s receiver group includes sophomore sensation Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, veteran Hunter Renfrow, and Amari Rodgers. That’s a lot of really good football players, and it will be a challenging night for the defensive backs of both squads. Clemson was able to defend Notre Dame’s big, physical wide receivers, but those receivers definitely did not have the speed that the Alabama receivers have. Alabama shut down Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, but CeeDee Lamb had himself a night with 109 receiving yards and one touchdown. Both units are going to have so step up their game, and the team with the better secondary play will have a great chance at victory.
Finally, another extremely important matchup lies in the trenches. Both teams have outstanding defensive lines. Clemson has the best defensive line in the country with stars like Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, and Austin Bryant. Dexter Lawrence would also be on that list, but his playing status is still unknown due to his failed drug test. Alabama’s defensive line is not as deep, but it is still destructive with players like Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis. The defensive lines are huge factors in this game as pressure against the two elite quarterbacks in this game will be very helpful for both defenses. In contrast, quarterback protection is also a huge factor in this game, as both Tua and Trevor Lawrence will be very dangerous when given sufficient time. The team that wins in the trenches will also win the game.
With the talent that both teams have, Alabama and Clemson are going to produce another classic championship game. It is going to be a high scoring, entertaining game between the two best teams in the country. These two teams are so evenly matched that a coin flip might have to decide this game. However, Alabama’s slight edge at quarterback will prove to be the difference maker. Tua Tagovailoa is going to use the weapons that he has at his disposal to his advantage just like he has all season long and is going to have another magical National Championship game performance. His performance will ultimately guide Alabama to its second straight National Championship in what will be the best title game of the playoff era.