2019 National Championship Game: Looking Ahead to Bama-Clemson IV
It seems nearly every movie is shoehorned into a trilogy these days. Only the rare ones get a quadrilogy. However, this is what the 2019 National Championship Game has brought us. A fourth consecutive year where the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers meet in the College Football Playoff.
The two elite squads met in the National Championship Game in 2016 & 2017. They split wins. Alabama beat Clemson in the semifinals a year ago. Both teams enter the 2019 National Championship Game 14-0. There has never been an instance where two teams have met with a 14-0 record.
A tight, drama-filled game is expected on Monday night. Let’s break down both teams.
2019 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME BREAKDOWN
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Nick Saban is looking to win the seventh national championship of his illustrious coaching career. It would be his sixth at Alabama. Without a doubt, the 2018 team is the best offense of the Saban era. Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa has been everything advertised. The Hawaiian born gunslinger has thrown for 3671 yards and 41 touchdowns. Tagovailoa looked great against Oklahoma last week. He had ankle surgery following the SEC Championship Game.
On the ground, senior Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs lead a stable of running backs. Jacobs has really emerged this season. He is a threat out of the backfield catching the football. Clemson will have a difficult time matching up in space with the Bama backs.
The Crimson Tide receiving corps are truly shining stars. Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle, and Devonta Smith are all threats to go the distance anytime they get the ball in their hands. Tight end Irv Smith, Jr could be one of the top players selected at his position in the 2019 draft.
On defense, the talk begins around the excellent defensive line, led by Quinnen Williams. Williams, the potential top pick in the draft, has been ridiculous all season. The Outland trophy winner lived in opponents backfields in 2018. Joining him up front are the highly productive Isaiah Buggs and Raekwon Davis. Buggs actually has more sacks than Williams.
If Alabama is shaky anywhere it may the secondary. True freshman Patrick Surtain II has emerged through the season. However, he and Saivion Smith will be tested early and often. There Is not a better safety in the country than Deionte Thompson.
Dabo Swinney is looking for his second championship in his tenth full season on the sidelines for Clemson. He made the decision to bench starting QB Kelly Bryant after four games for true freshman Trevor Lawrence. The offense never looked back. Lawrence has thrown for 2933 yards and 29 TDs.
It certainly helps when you can lean on a stud running back. Travis Etienne has been phenomenal in 2018. Etienne has accounted for 1646 scrimmage yards and 23 scores. The Clemson receiving unit is tremendous as well. Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, and Amari Rodgers are all big-play threats. This does not take into account the ever-reliable Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow catches everything and always seems to be open.
The Tigers offensive line, led by Mitch Hyatt, could be in for a long night. Their ability to protect Lawrence will be tantamount for Clemson to be able to win.
Defensively for the Tigers, just like the Crimson Tide, it starts up front. Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, and Austin Bryant lead a feared pass rush that will give Tagovailoa fits. Clemson will be without stud defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. He will miss a second straight game. Lawrence is serving an NCAA suspension for failing a test of performance-enhancing drugs.
Kendall Joseph leads the athletic Clemson linebacker group. Also like Alabama, the secondary is considered the weak link on defense. Safety Isaiah Simmons is outstanding. The rest of the group are young and prone to mistakes.
Neither team has a kicking game to be proud of.
WHO IS GOING TO WIN?
When you break it down, it really is amazing how these teams seem to parallel each other. Five and four-star recruits line up and down each team’s roster. Both teams are well coached. Both teams can rush the passer. Alabama and Clemson have star young QBs with talented receivers. So who wins?
When all else fails, go with Nick Saban I say.
PREDICTION: Alabama 38, Clemson 28
Who do you think wins the 2019 National Championship game?
Let us know in the comments!
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