Which team will Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Alabama or Clemson?
We asked CFB 24/7's panel of experts for their predictions.
- Gil Brandt NFL.com
'Bama to ride run game to title
My predicted final score is: Alabama 30, Clemson 20. I think we'll see Alabama with a different game plan offensively against Clemson than it had for Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl. Michigan State, because of its ability against the run, made Alabama a passing team. On Monday night, Alabama will revert back to running the ball. Clemson is good on defense, but Shaq Lawson -- if he plays -- will only be at about 60 percent after the knee sprain suffered in the Orange Bowl.
I wouldn't be surprised if the score is 0-0 after one quarter. In the past, Alabama has had trouble against mobile quarterbacks, which is what Clemson has in Deshaun Watson. This year's corps of linebackers at Alabama will lessen that threat. I don't think that Clemson is a threat in the passing game, because wide receiver Deon Cain -- who averaged 17.1 yards per catch -- will not play due to a suspension. I also have the Alabama special teams rated higher than Clemson's (22nd vs. 90th). I'm not sure if Alabama punter JK Scott is as good as Clemson punter Andy Teasdall, but I don't expect any surprise plays like the one the Tigers ran in the semifinal against Oklahoma.
- Daniel Jeremiah NFL.com
Alabama will prevail
This is going to be an excellent matchup in the championship game. My favorite matchup to watch will be the 'Bama offensive line vs. the Clemson defensive front. There are a lot of NFL players in those two groups. However, the matchup that will decide the game will be the 'Bama front seven against the Clemson O-line. This clearly favors the Crimson Tide and I believe their dominance will lead to a 28-14 win over the Tigers.
- Chase Goodbread College Football 24/7
'Bama is more talented team across the board
Clemson presents far more challenges offensively for Alabama than did Michigan State, and because of that alone, you can forget about this game being another 38-0 rout. Clemson has a more dynamic threat at quarterback in Deshaun Watson because of his ability to both run and throw. That said, Alabama's defense, like it has week after week, will yield near-zero ground to Clemson's running game. And with an NCAA-leading 50 sacks, the pressure on Watson in the pocket should be relatively constant. Unless Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker commits a couple of turnovers, the more talented team across the board will prevail. Alabama 30, Clemson 20
- Charles Davis NFL.com
Tide set to roll
While Clemson embraces and cherishes the role of underdog despite being the top-ranked team in college football (and they play in the image of their fighter of a coach, Dabo Swinney), I'm picking the favorite, and team comfortable with being the target, Alabama.
This should be a terrific game, and stars from both teams will make plays. The wild-card player for Clemson to me is RB Wayne Gallman. If he gets rolling and keeps Alabama's front 7 at bay, or on the run, then Clemson can win this game.
I think 'Bama will take control midway through the second half and win the 2016 College Football Playoff. Tide, 33-24.
- Chad Reuter College Football 24/7
Tide defense will slow Clemson's dual-threat QB
For the third time in five years, No. 2-ranked Alabama will beat the top-ranked team in the country for a national title. No. 1-rated Clemson has a star quarterback in Deshaun Watson, who has deviled defenses by running for more than 100 yards in five of the last six games. But Nick Saban's defense has plenty of experience limiting athletic quarterbacks in titles games; they held Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson to five yards on four carries in the 2013 BCS Championship Game just one year after holding LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson to 15 yards on 14 carries. I expect Watson to be more productive than Golson or Jefferson, but the ultra-talented Tide defense will slow him down enough to pull out a 31-20 victory.