The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship is finally here, and this year we get a rematch of last year’s thrilling Alabama-Clemson game. The Tide won 45-40, and there’s nothing close to a media consensus on which team will win the rematch, thanks in part to Clemson’s dominance of Ohio State in the semifinal, Alabama’s mid-week offensive coordinator change to Steve Sarkisian, and the fact that Clemson’s healthier than it was last year.
So who’s the media picking?
Eleven of SB Nation’s college football staffers picked the Tide, with only four choosing the Tigers to win. But many other outlets are leaning in Clemson’s direction.
CBS Sports’ staff has just two people picking Alabama to win it, with five others going with the Tigers. Sports Illustrated also has two picking Alabama and five picking Clemson. Only five of 11 staffers at Athlon Sports are picking the Tide. ESPN’s Tom Luginbill picked Clemson to win.
Still, some favor Bama. College Football News predicts Alabama to win and cover the spread. Four of ESPN’s five SEC reporters stick with their conference ties and pick the Tide, while the ACC group has yet to post its predictions.
So it’s safe to say the media is pretty divided here
Bama players are rarely picked against, and they’re feeding on it:
"We do feel like we're underdogs right now," Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson said.
"[The media] is selling us as possible underdogs, possible upset," said Williams, who is second on Alabama's team with nine sacks. "We know what we have to come out there and do at the end of the day -- put the cleats on.”
Before Bama’s semifinal game against Washington, Tide staffers put up fake news stories that highlighted the Huskies upsetting Alabama for motivation. Now there’s no fake news needed.
“These are the two best teams, and to be honest with you, I don’t think there’s another team out there that’s capable of beating Alabama,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said on Saturday. “I think we’re probably the only team that has a chance.”
As far as numbers go ...
Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings have Alabama at No. 1 and Clemson at No. 3. Per S&P, Alabama has a 69 percent chance to beat Clemson, with a predicted score of 28.9-20.5.
Las Vegas clearly likes Alabama to come out on top once again. In fact, odds for this game came out before Clemson’s Fiesta Bowl blowout over Ohio State was even over, and the Tide were an early 7-point favorite. Per OddsShark, the Tide are currently a 6-point favorite.
OddsShark’s computer system also predicts the Tide to win and cover.
Last year, Alabama was the lower seed in the National Championship, but the Tide were still favored.