The Clemson Tigers are the only undefeated team left in college football and are the No. 1 team in the nation. Even so, they're getting very little respect both in the public's eyes as well as the media and offshore sportsbooks. They're a 7-point underdog in the National Championship Game against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide.
One of the main reasons for that is that the Tide have become a successful, big brand name in college football. Every year, they're expected to win the championship or at least be within arm's reach of it.
The fact that they have Nick Saban on their sidelines and his four championship rings gives them the benefit of the doubt in most cases. In this particular one, it also helps that they smoked Michigan State 38-0 in the semifinal.
The championship game will be a classic offense-versus-defense matchup. In terms of x's and o's, this contest will likely be won or lost on the line of scrimmage when the Tigers have the ball.
Clemson has an explosive offense as evidenced by their 37-17 win over Oklahoma in their semifinal. Their offense finished 11th in the nation in yards per game (512.0) and 16th in points (38.4). Their offensive line has been questioned all season long yet they've helped quarterback DeShaun Watson become the school's single-season yardage leader and running back Wayne Gallman become the leading rusher in school history.
All five members of the offensive line earned honors on one of the three all-ACC teams.
They'll be in tough against the Tide's defensive line, which has been downright dominant down the stretch of the season. Alabama led the nation with 50 sacks and 70.8 rushing yards per game allowed.
If Clemson is forced to become one-dimensional as Michigan State was - the Spartans were held to just 29 rushing yards on 26 carries - then it's going to be very challenging for the Tigers to be effective on that side of the ball and dictate the pace of the game. Their goal is to make this into a shootout
However, Alabama hasn't allowed more than 16 points in any of their last seven games. If they're able to sink in their teeth defensively, the odds favor Saban earning his fifth championship ring.