RUNDOWN AND PREDICTION
Foolish me, I thought Michigan State presented Alabama a stiff challenge in the Cotton Bowl. Likewise, I anticipated Oklahoma staying on pace with Clemson in a shootout that threatened the combined 100-point mark. Bear that in mind with this prediction.
That said, a spread-offense team with a mobile quarterback has given Alabama more problems than any pro-set squad in Saban’s tenure. Michigan State lacked the offensive chops to force Alabama off-balance; causing such havoc is all Watson does. But without benefit of a consistent run game, the Tigers will be limited.
The onus then falls on Alabama’s offense. Clemson’s defense is arguably the most underrated in college football, as proven in the Orange Bowl stifling of Oklahoma. Kiffin is no Lincoln Riley philosophically, but the Tide’s physicality should set the tone. Body-blow possessions will start to show up in the second half, when Alabama takes control down the stretch and gives Nick Saban one more reason to dance this college football season.