The Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide are meeting in the College Football Playoff for the third straight season. The teams split the first two meetings, both national championship bouts, but the Tigers covered twice as underdogs. In the second of this season's CFP semifinals, Clemson battles the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day in New Orleans.
College football point spread: This game opened as a pick'em, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 39.1-28.7 Crimson Tide (College football picks on every game)
Why the Alabama Crimson Tide can cover the spread
The Tide started 11-0 this season, with wins over bowl-bound outfits such as Florida State, Fresno State, Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State. Alabama then was an upset victim to an inspired Auburn team in the Iron Bowl 26-14 and missed out on the SEC championship game.
Alabama spotted the Tigers the first touchdown of the game in that season finale, rallied to lead 14-13 late into the third quarter but came up dry from there. On the day, the Tide were outgained by Auburn, but only by a margin of 408-379, and they outrushed the Tigers 211-168. But a fumbled snap on a short field-goal attempt in the third quarter led directly to an Auburn score, and two later incursions inside Tigers territory came up empty.
Nonetheless, the Tide received an invitation to the CFP for the fourth straight season.
On the season Alabama outgained 10 of its 12 opponents, six of them by 200 yards or more, and outrushed 11 of 12 foes.
Why the Clemson Tigers can cover the spread
The defending national champions started 6-0 this season, with wins over that same Auburn outfit, Louisville and Virginia Tech. The Tigers then fell upset victim to a fired-up Syracuse team on a Friday night up at the Carrier Dome. But playing for its CFP life Clemson won its last five games to secure a spot in the ACC championship game, where they destroyed Miami 34-10.
Clemson drove its opening possession against the Hurricanes 68 yards to a touchdown, led 14-0 after one quarter, 21-0 at the half and 38-0 late in the third, on its way to an easy cover of a 12-point spread. The Tigers outgained Miami 331-214.
So, the Tigers are playing in the CFP for the third year in a row.
On the season, Clemson outgained 10 of its 13 opponents and outrushed 11 of its 13 foes.
Two years ago Alabama beat Clemson in the national title game 45-40 but the Tigers covered as six-point dogs. Last year Clemson beat the Tide for the national championship 35-31 as six-point dogs. Why are the Tigers underdogs here? The smart money bets on Clemson to win.
College football betting trends
The total has gone over in Clemson's last four games in January.
Clemson is 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS in its last four games on a Monday.
Alabama is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games after losing as a favorite.
All college football odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.