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For the third straight season, Alabama and Clemson square off in the postseason. This time, it is in the semifinal game in New Orleans where Alabama is a three-point favorite, and the over-under is set at 47 points.
Clemson fared much better this season in Vegas, going 8-4-1 against the spread. The Tigers hit the under on the point total in eight of 12 games. Alabama went just 5-7 against the spread, with six of their games hitting the over while five went under the point total.
The two teams enter this game in different circumstances. Clemson defeated Miami to win the the ACC championship, while Alabama did not even play in the SEC title game. The committee deemed Alabama’s regular season resume worthy to be the final team selected into the College Football Playoff.
Here’s a look at the Sugar Bowl matchup, what the numbers say about the game and our prediction for Alabama-Clemson round three.
Alabama vs. Clemson: How They Got to the Sugar Bowl
Clemson flirted with perfection, but Syracuse pulled off an upset on a Friday night in October. The Tigers have the most impressive resume in the country as their No. 1 seed would suggest. Clemson has wins over Auburn, Miami, Louisville, Virginia Tech and NC State. The Tigers head to New Orleans having won their last six games.
Alabama had won 11 straight games prior to losing to Auburn in the final game of the season. The Crimson Tide advanced to the College Football Playoff despite not playing in the SEC Championship. Alabama had wins over Florida State (when they were ranked No. 2), LSU and Mississippi State.
The Crimson Tide have the top ranked defense only allowing 12.5 points per game. Clemson is not too far behind as the Tigers defense ranks No. 4 giving up just 13.6 points each game. Alabama also has a top 10 offense as the Crimson Tide put up 37.5 points a game. Clemson is farther down at No. 25 as the unit averages 33.2 points per game.
Alabama ranks No. 2 in SB Nation’s S&P+ rankings, while Clemson ranks No. 7. Alabama has the lead in the series 13-4, but Clemson owns the most recent victory as the Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide for the 2016 title. Prior to this loss, Alabama had defeated Clemson thirteen straight times.
Sugar Bowl Prediction: Alabama Gets Revenge
The OddsShark computer likes Alabama’s chances in tonight’s contest. The computer projects a 39.1-28.7 Alabama victory as the computer is taking Alabama to cover the spread, and the over on the point total.
The S&P+ computer projects a much closer contest. The computer also likes Alabama, but projects a narrow 25.7-22.1 Crimson Tide victory.
There’s little argument Clemson has been the more impressive team this season, and owns the better resume. That said, Clemson has been far from flawless, and Kelly Bryant will be playing in his first College Football Playoff matchup.
Prior to Deshaun Watson’s late-game heroics, it appeared as though Jalen Hurts led Alabama to a national title in last year’s game. Hurts enters the 2018 contest with a year under his belt. Alabama also has had an entire year to think about losing the title game to Clemson. For all Clemson has accomplished this season, Heavy likes Alabama to get their revenge, and top Clemson to book their trip to Atlanta.
Heavy’s Pick: Alabama 24 Clemson 17. Alabama Covers -3 Spread. Under on the Point Total.