2017 CFP National Championship Betting Overview

Posted by Peter Boysen on January 6, 2017 in

On Monday night, Alabama and Clemson will meet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, for the third College Football Playoff Championship. The game kicks off at 8:30pm Eastern time on ESPN (as well as Westwood One radio and WatchESPN). This features a rematch of last year’s CFP title game, when Alabama exploited some holes in the Clemson secondary and snuck an onside kick past an inattentive Clemson special teams unit to escape with a 45-40 win. Let’s take a look at some issues going into the game — and be sure to check out our college football odds to win the college football championship.

2017 CFP National Championship Betting Overview

A Change on Offense…

Alabama did put up 24 on a talented Washington defense in the Peach Bowl semifinal on New Year’s Eve. However, that didn’t satisfy Alabama head coach Nick Saban — and if we’re going to be honest, the amount of time that his offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, sat doing interviews probably irked Saban as well. He even got left at one of the media events while the team bus went back to the hotel and had to get a ride with a Peach Bowl official. So Saban made the unusual decision to jettison his offensive coordinator — who was trying to juggle OC duties at Alabama with recruiting and assembling a staff at his new head coach jig at Florida Atlantic University — and install Steve Sarkisian, whose personal struggles had led to a scandalous ouster at USC, as the new offensive coordinator going into the title game.

And why not? Saban had just noticed that Clemson shut out Ohio State in the other semifinal, 31-0. That’s an absolute dismantling of a team that had one of the best offenses in the nation. But what will Sarkisian do differently? I expect to see Alabama pounding the ball with Bo Scarborough even more than they did against Washington, although instead of the short passing game, you can also expect to see Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts stretch the field with some deep balls. Jake Coker hit some home runs last year as the Alabama quarterback — and then there is also tight end O.J. Howard, who had two touchdown passes and 208 yards against Clemson last year, but Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart will be targets down the field as well.

Because of a World-class Defense

Clemson has the defense to beat Alabama. Yes, the Tigers had some big lapses (Pitt at home most notably, but Lamar Jackson at Louisville and Jerod Evans at Virginia Tech also found plenty of room to operate against that Clemson D, at least at points throughout the game). But Clemson’s defensive line will all find homes in the NFL eventually, and their linebacking corps will be able to contain Jalen Hurts. It is the secondary that has problems at times against opposing offenses, but will Jalen Hurts have the time that he needs to get the ball down the field? Either way, I don’t expect to see 85 points on the board again this year. Both defenses are bigger, faster and better. On a night that is expected to be cold (Raymond James Stadium isn’t a dome — it’s an open-air stadium) and possibly windy, passing games could struggle a bit, which puts the emphasis on power running and defense.