Game: Alabama vs. Clemson
Line: Alabama -6
Pick: Who do you think?
If my chest cavity wasn’t a smoke-tinged cavern of broken dreams and dollar signs, I’d probably be picking Dabo and the Tigers to avenge the cold blooded ousting of America’s favorite offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin. Though I enjoyed last weekend’s offensive debacle in which Kiffin was berated more times than he allowed the unstoppable Bo Scarbrough to run the ball, I still cannot believe Nick Saban abruptly dumped his womanizing manchild offensive guru (who, mind you, has engineered the 3 most prolific offenses in Alabama’s modern history with three different quarterbacks) for someone people say is “far more mature” in Sark. You know, the guy he chased pussy with at USC who’s also a Frank Gallagher-level alcoholic. Nice.
While poor Lane is off tightening his Tinder game and trying to figure out where the fuck Florida Atlantic University even is, the Crimson Tide face by far their stiffest test of the season, with Clemson’s dynamic offense led by QB DeShaun Watson and likely top 10 NFL Draft pick WR Mike Williams. The Tigers, likely the most athletic offense in the nation, will start 7 players Monday night projected in the first three rounds of April’s draft, double that of the “stacked” Crimson Tide, presenting an apparent challenge to the mid-tier NFL defense orchestrated by Saban and first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Watson is a dynamic veteran that gashed the Crimson Tide in the first edition of this modern clash of the titans last year, with most Clemson fans claiming the Tigers simply “ran out of time” in an instant classic. With another year of experience, the healthy return of his top target, and an offensive line surrendering the least sacks of any ACC unit, one would think the Tigers to be a strong upset pick on Monday night, right?
Not so fast, my friends.
Yes, the Tigers are good, but let’s not forget this is the same team that needed Dabo’s conjuring of spirits to escape a loss at home against lowly NC State, gave up about a million yards to a bad Pittsburgh team, and has sleep walked through one of America’s easiest schedules prior to castrating the Buckeyes last weekend.
Let’s look at the matchups:
Jalen Hurts vs. DeShaun Watson
Hurts has been a freshman revelation, likely the greatest in the storied history of Alabama, but Watson might be the most complete signal caller in the nation (with three years of added experience).
Wayne Gallman vs. Bo Scarbrough/Damien Harris
Gallman is an upper-tier back that wears down defenses, especially in the not-so-vaunted ACC. But, as is apparently Alabama tradition, Scarbrough is a mountain of a man who runs like a 150 lb track sprinter. I’m telling you, they put something in the water down in Tuscaloosa. And by “water,” I might mean syringe.
Mike Williams/Ray-Ray McCloud vs. Calvin Ridley/ArDarius Stewart/O.J. Howard
Mike Williams is the best overall player of both units, but Alabama’s patently unfair depth, with two former 5 stars listed as their fourth and fifth receivers, is too much for Clemson’s patchwork secondary to contain. Howard is the best — and most painfully underused — tight end in the country, and if there’s one person I trust to shut down Williams (or at least contain him), it’s the nation’s best defensive backs coach: Nick Saban.
Cam Robinson looks like the next in a long line of Crimson Tide top 10 drafted tackles, they somehow have another four former top 100 recruits starting along the first unit line, and Coach Mario Cristobal, who is said to be on his way out of Tuscaloosa for Oregon’s OC position, is one of the best in the country. Clemson, though great in pass protection, is simply overmatched athletically.
Advantage: Alabama. Over everyone ever.
There’s no point in breaking this down, as it is not close and frankly wouldn’t be with any college unit. Alabama, behind Reuben Foster, has assembled the most terrifyingly athletic and hard hitting collection of linebackers college football has ever seen. Jonathan Allen, Da’Shawn Hand, and the rest of the Crimson Tide defensive line, that goes literally 8 deep with future NFL players, terrorizes quarterbacks to an extent even Saban has never experienced before, generating more pressure while dedicating 7 players to coverage than any team in the last 5 years. Even without corner Eddie Jackson (out with injury), Minkah Fitzpatrick leads a defensive back unit responsible for more total touchdowns and turnovers than any other Power 5 member unit, making Jake Browning look like Brock Osweiler last week in the process. The Alabama defense is shockingly good, and this time they don’t have a coordinator with both feet out the door before the Clemson game. Thanks, Kirby.
Pick: Alabama 34 Clemson 20
The Crimson Tide swarm defensively, and Sarkisian finally lets Bo run wild against an athletic but inexperienced and undersized Clemson front 7..
Image via Twitter