Everything you need to know for Alabama-Clemson college football championship game
For the fourth season in a row, the national championship goes through Alabama or Clemson. And for the third time, the teams meet in the title game.
Here's everything you need to know:
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers
Line: Alabama by 5 1-2.
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California.
HOW TO WATCH
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ET, ESPN
ESPN2: Running commentary with a rotation of analysts and celebrities.
ESPNEWS: Monday Night Football crew breaking down the game in real time.
ESPNU: Simultaneous multi-camera views, enhanced statistics.
ESPN CLASSIC: Natural sounds of Levi’s Stadium
ESPN3: Hometown audio with Alabama and Clemson radio teams. Several other features as well.
Breaking down which team has the edge in each aspect of the game and four keys to victory for both teams:
Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa reverted to form in the Orange Bowl after suffering an ankle injury in the SEC championship game against Georgia. He'll be even more mobile with an additional week to recover, which should come in handy against Clemson's terrific pass rush. His counterpart, Trevor Lawrence, has been fabulous as a true freshman since entering the starting lineup in late September and seems ready for the sport's biggest stage. But a healthy Tagovailoa is among college football's most dangerous weapons. EDGE: Alabama
Alabama goes with a committee approach, rotating among senior Damien Harris (819 yards), sophomore Najee Harris (724 yards) and junior Josh Jacobs (593 yards). Clemson's running game does the same, though much of the Tigers' production belongs to sophomore Travis Etienne (1,572 yards and 22 touchdowns). Where Clemson excels in is with its explosiveness: Etienne averages 8.3 yards per carry and the offense overall averages 6.7 yards a carry. EDGE: Clemson
Alabama's defense is powerful but not quite as intimidating as units from the program's recent past. The defense ranks 13th nationally in yards allowed per play, the Tide's lowest ranking in the category since 2014. Meanwhile, Clemson leads the country in yards per play and has solved every offense on its schedule. Paced by the nation's best defensive line and an underrated secondary, the Tigers are ready to take on Alabama's high-powered offense and place Tagovailoa and the Tide into a rare bind. EDGE: Clemson
Clemson is very strong in coverage but average in the return game. The edge on returns belongs to Alabama, particularly on punts. Neither team is overly reliable in the kicking game, whether on field goals or punts, which could be an issue in a game predicted to be close heading into the fourth quarter. Alabama's ability to flip field position on punt returns is a major advantage. EDGE: Alabama
A matchup of what are questionably the nation's best teams will be decided by quarterback play, the pass rush and the ability to win on early downs. On paper, neither team holds a decided edge in any one area. Alabama hasn't faced a team of Clemson's caliber all season; likewise for the Tigers. Look for scoring, impact plays and enough talent to populate the upper ranges of the next handful of NFL drafts. But even in this era of powerful offenses, look for defense to carry Clemson to the national championship. Clemson 34, Alabama 30