Alabama will face a higher ranked team in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, but the Crimson Tide might as well be the No.1 team in the country. Nick Saban’s No.2 ranked squad is a significant favorite to beat top-ranked Clemson for the national title, and it’s not hard to see why.
The Tigers are the only team that went through the regular season undefeated, and they dismantled No.4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. But Alabama was even more dominant against No.3 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, and they’ve been unbeatable for most of the season.
Below is a look at three reasons why Alabama will win the national championship.
Best Defense in College Football
The Crimson Tide rank third in yards allowed and opponents’ points per game, and there’s no disputing that Alabama has the most talented defense in the nation. With the country’s best defensive line and an impenetrable run defense, they should be able to stop Clemson from doing much of anything on the offensive end.
During their 11-game winning streak, Alabama has held all but one opponent to 16 points or less, and they've given up just eight points per game in the last five contests. The Crimson Tide rank 31st in pass defense, but it’s their ability to stop the run that’s made it nearly impossible for opponents to score. Only two teams have rushed for more than 100 yards against Alabama, and they’ve allowed just 44 total rushing yards on 47 carries in back-to-back games against Michigan State and Florida.
Clemson can’t win if they don’t run the ball effectively. Deshaun Watson’s ability to run sets him apart from most quarterbacks in the country, and his 145 rushing yards against Oklahoma nearly matched his passing total. Ranking first in sacks (46) and opponents’ yards per carry (2.4), Alabama has a good chance to stifle Watson and running back Wayne Gallman.
Clemson has a higher scoring average than Alabama, but the gap between the two offenses is much smaller than the one between the two defenses. The Crimson Tide have a chance to move the ball somewhat effectively, and they can put away the game with just a few scores.
If Watson is neutralized, Alabama clearly has the best player on the field. Derrick Henry has been nearly unstoppable this season, rushing for 2,061 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Heisman Trophy winner rose to the occasion when playing opposite Leonard Fournette, rushing for 210 yards and three scores, and before the Cotton Bowl he averaged 208.8 yards per game in his last six games against Power Five conference teams. Henry only rushed for 75 yards against Michigan State, but he still managed to score two touchdowns.
Jake Coker hasn’t put up big numbers this season, but he’s been steady at quarterback and won’t make mistakes that will cost Alabama. In last year’s playoffs, the Crimson Tide lost behind three interceptions from Blake Sims. Coker was nearly perfect against the Spartans, and he’ll make the plays that need to be made against the Tigers.
Alabama has been the most successful program in college football over the last decade, and having the sport’s best head coach is the No.1 reason. Saban gives the Crimson Tide the coaching edge in any game, and he’s on his way towards winning yet another title.
Saban has been a perennial winner since going to Alabama in 2007. The famed program is looking to win their fourth championship in the last seven seasons, and the Crimson Tide are 3-0 in national title games under Saban. Alabama fell short in the semifinal of last year’s playoffs, but Saban’s team is clearly the one with more talent this season, and he won’t allow them to lose.
Dabo Swinney has done a great job with Clemson, but the Tigers are running into a team that is just too talented and too well coached.