ESPN midseason picks: Clemson finishes No. 1, takes on Alabama for title

by - Staff Writer -
Kelly Bryant watched from the sidelines for Clemson's last two Playoff runs, but he's expected to play a key role this time around.

With half of the regular season in, ESPN weighed in with its midseason predictions Wednesday.

Clemson-Alabama, part III, is the title-game projection, with the Tigers going into the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed.

"Alabama will be the most dominant team in college football but not the most deserving of No. 1," ESPN's Alex Scarborough writes. "That will be Clemson, which will earn its No. 1 seed with wins over ranked opponents Auburn, Louisville, Virginia Tech and, eventually, NC State and whichever team reaches the ACC title game."

Given that "most dominant" tag, it's not surprising that the Crimson Tide are the pick for the national championship this time around.

"Alabama is an angry football team...The root of that defiance, that us-against-the-world mentality, is Clemson," Scarborough writes. "Losing in the final second to the Tigers in Tampa last year lit a fire inside the Tide and Nick Saban is going to ride that all the way to his sixth national championship."

In the Playoff semifinal, the projection is another Clemson-Ohio State meeting:

"(Dabo Swinney) kept pointing to his depth on the offensive line and how much he had returning on defense. Still, we didn't listen. Well, now we know...Kelly Bryant might not be the next Watson, but he'll certainly do the trick. And that defensive line is the stuff nightmares are made of. Austin Bryant leads the team with 5.0 sacks, but the Tigers have spread the wealth with 12 different players with at least one full sack this season, the most in the ACC and second-most in FBS."

ESPN midseason predictions

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