Clemson and Alabama are meeting in the national championship for the second consecutive year, and it is clear that Clemson and Alabama are the two best programs in college football right now. Both teams are strong all across the board, and statistics can be used to argue that either team will win. There is no one clear favorite, but there are several questions for each team that will determine the outcome of the game.

Will Alabama’s offense return to the basics? I can’t take credit for this one or the analysis, as Alabama draft analyst Shane Alexander (@Alexander1Great) explained this predicament in a conversation we had yesterday. Jalen Hurts is more of an athlete than a quarterback, unlike Watson who is a quarterback first with great athleticism. If newly installed coordinator Steve Sarkisian returns to Alabama’s bread and butter of running the ball, then Clemson will face a formidable challenge. If Sarkisian keeps Kiffin’s offensive philosophy, the Clemson Tigers will feast on Alabama’s offense.

Can Clemson pass against Alabama? Alabama’s defense is better than last year while Clemson’s running game is not as formidable as last year, so Clemson will need to pass the ball. While relying on passing the ball can be seen as a bad thing, it is Clemson’s clear advantage against Alabama. The Tide’s secondary is thinned by injury, while Clemson has the deepest receiving corps in the country with at least eight players that can rotate in and out to take advantage of the defensive backs. While Clemson will need to run the ball with some efficiency in order to win, the passing game will be the key tonight for Clemson’s offense. This also takes into account

Can Clemson disrupt Jalen Hurts? Clemson has one of the best defensive lines in the nation that has terrorized opposing quarterbacks all season long. Clemson will probably put pressure on Hurts, but how Hurts responds will be extremely important. If Hurts maintains his composure and is patient, the running game for Alabama will be successful and Hurts can do what he needs to do in order to help Alabama win the game. If Hurts is terrified of Clemson’s pass rush, he will be ineffective in the air, Clemson can key in on the run, and Alabama will struggle to move the ball on offense.

Can Andy Teasdall punt the ball effectively? Clemson will have to punt the ball at some point because Alabama has an excellent defense. If Teasdall has a bad night punting, Alabama’s offense will have an easier time scoring and Clemson will be hard pressed to keep up. Since Alabama’s JK Scott is one of the best punters in the nation, Teasdall will need to have an excellent night in order to keep the field position battle even.

Which offensive line will play better? If there is one question that typically determines the outcome of a game, it is the play of each offensive line. If both lines play well, it will be a shootout. If both lines struggle, it will be a sloppy low scoring game. If one line plays well and the other doesn’t, the game will not be a close affair.

My prediction: Alabama is an incredible team, but Clemson’s defense will shut down Alabama’s offense and Clemson’s offense will make the plays they need to win. I think the Tigers win in a low scoring battle for the ages. Clemson 17 Alabama 14