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Staff Predictions for Alabama-Clemson in the 2017 CFP Championship Game

CFP National Championship - Alabama v Clemson
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Top-ranked Alabama and No. 2 Clemson are set to rematch in the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday night in Tampa.

For the Crimson Tide, it’s an opportunity to add another title to the trophy case. For Clemson, it’s a chance to win the school’s first national title in 35 years.

So who does our staff think will win? Here are the predictions.

Martin Houston, Host of The Morning Blitz

Well it’s down the last 60 minutes of the college football season. Just prior to the last time these two teams took the field, Alabama was almost a consensus favorite to when in a rematch. With the results of the semifinals, many national media guys have jumped ship to pick the Clemson Tigers. I have to admit that on Sunday morning, a little doubt had crept into my head, but not into my heart!  60 minutes in a semifinal does not make or break a season, if you get the win.

So for all the wishful media, non-Bama fans and Saban haters, suffering from the Bama fatigue epidemic, I’ve got news for you, Clemson is not your cure. Saban makes the boldest move of his coaching career with replacing Kiffin with Sark and it pays off huge. Look for the Bama offense on the performance of Jalen Hurts, Bo Scarborough & the big 3 (Ridley, Stewart & Howard) to put up one of their best performances of the year. This will be supported by a defense that was disappointed and wanted a do-over with Deshaun Watson. The defense will have another dominant performance and solidify themselves and the best of all times. Alabama vs Clemson part 2 ends with #17 for the Tide and 5 of 8 National Titiles for Saban! Alabama 34, Clemson 23

Wimp Sanderson, Co-Host of Inside the Locker Room

Clemson seems to be peaking at the right time. They also believe that they can win. Look for controversy with Kiffin to cause more of an issue than people think. Clemson 16, Alabama 14

Barry Sanderson, Co-Host of Inside the Locker Room

I look for Bama to be razor focused on both sides of the ball. They will show Clemson that the gap between the programs is bigger than they thought. Alabama 31, Clemson 17

Gary Harris, Host of The Gary Harris Show

With the Alabama offense stuck in neutral for much of its CFP semifinal win over Washington and Clemson looking dominant in its shutout of Ohio State in the other Final Four matchup, the narrative has suddenly switched to the Crimson Tide being prime for a loss in the championship game. Regardless of what happened last Saturday, Clemson has always been the one team capable of taking UA down. Like last January, the Tigers will make things extremely difficult for Alabama. And just like last January, Alabama will prove extremely difficult to beat in the fourth quarter. Alabama 24, Clemson 20

Travis Reier, Host of Southern Fried Sports

With the Alabama offense stuck in neutral for much of its CFP semifinal win over Washington and Clemson looking dominant in its shutout of Ohio State in the other Final Four matchup, the narrative has suddenly switched to the Crimson Tide being prime for a loss in the championship game. Regardless of what happened last Saturday, Clemson has always been the one team capable of taking UA down. Like last January, the Tigers will make things extremely difficult for Alabama. And just like last January, Alabama will prove extremely difficult to beat in the fourth quarter. Alabama 24, Clemson 20

Aaron Suttles, Host of The Suttles Approach

If Deshaun Watson is on, strap in because he gave them fits last year. I think Jeremy Pruitt is the difference. He will come after Watson and pressure him into mistakes. Alabama 24, Clemson 17

Ryan Fowler, Host of The Game

After spending some time with defensive players in Tampa on Saturday during media availability, I realized how embarrassed this defense was of their performance against Deshaun Watson and the explosive Clemson Tigers last year. I have talked about this all week on “The Game” but I believe this defense has something to prove and will not allow the Tigers to repeat the offensive success that happened in Arizona. I also think that most people are putting way too much stock into the Kiffin and Sarkisian transition. I continue to hear from players that the Tide’s offense had some of the best practices of the year this week. Look for the Tide’s offense to get back on track and combine that with a hateful defense (Nick Saban’s words not mine), Alabama will beat Clemson and Coach Saban will tie Coach Bryant with 6 national championships. Alabama 31, Clemson 17
 

Ben George, Digital Managing Editor

Much like you’ve heard from the players all week, last year’s game doesn’t mean much for tonight’s rematch between Alabama and Clemson. There are many of the same players taking the field in Tampa, but the Crimson Tide is a much different team from last season. The Crimson Tide defense matches up much better with Deshaun Watson and the Tigers offense. He’ll be contained by the speed and quickness of Reuben Foster, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson, and the other starters, forcing him to beat Alabama through the air. He’ll be able to hit a few plays but he won’t be able to repeat last year’s incredible performance. And offensively, the move from Kiffin to Sarkisian has given the players new confidence this week. Alabama 35, Clemson 14

James Hardy, Producer

Alabama faces a unique circumstance with a new play caller for Jalen Hurts but the true freshman has shown that he is no garden variety freshman. He has the chance to become just the 2nd true freshman quarterback in college football history to lead his team to a national championship. The change in coordinators may help Hurts as far as simplifying the game plan and utilizing the running back to take the load off the young Alabama signal caller. Alabama 34, Clemson 24

Thomas Paradiso, Producer

The end of the season is here. Bama has made it to the CFP National Championship for the second year in a row, and the opponent is very familiar as the Crimson Tide takes on Clemson in a rematch from last year. All eyes are on the offense once again after a poor performance in the Peach Bowl. Steve Sarkisian was promoted to Offensive Coordinator to replace Lane Kiffin. The Tide, in addition to getting its offense right, must have its defense ready for Deshaun Watson – a magnificent player in his own right – and the Clemson offense. I’m already preparing myself for a close game, but I think Bama takes it in a thriller and captures its 17th national championship. Alabama 27, Clemson 24

Best of Tide 99.1

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