FOX Sports panel picks Clemson-Alabama game
|Wednesday, January 2, 2019, 6:54 PM-|
Clemson and Alabama meet for in the national title game for the third in four seasons and a fourth-straight campaign overall on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California (8 p.m. ET/ESPN).
Three panelists with FOX Sports were very complimentary of the Tigers this week, with two calling for the upset.
“Just an unbelievable offense with a lot of playmakers...I like Clemson in this game," former Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart said. "I think the difference is Trevor Lawrence is a better thrower than what we saw last year with Kelly Bryant, when Clemson went up against Alabama. He’s proven on this stage that he can play well.
“Defensively, Clemson’s defensive front is going to be a lot for Alabama to handle.”
Longtime college and pro coach Dave Wannstedt was impressed by the ease in which Lawrence was able to operate the offense versus Notre Dame last week.
“Trevor Lawrence wasn't in a lot of bad situations where everyone in the stadium knew he had to throw the football," said Wannstedt. "Dabo Swinney made the comment, this is his best offensive line. They’re going to need to show up. I think they will, and they’re going to need to do a good job on first and second down, because Nick Saban on the other side, he’s as good as there with a defensive mentality is at creating pressure if you give him the opportunity to.
"So I like Clemson because I think their offensive line makes the difference.”
Former All-Pro running back Robert Smith picked Alabama despite being high on Clemson preseason.
“You’re talking about two of the best defensive lines in the country," Smith said. "I gotta take Alabama in this one. The difference, for me, is that (Clemson) doesn’t have the mobility at the quarterback position. I think that's going to be the problem. Alabama is just as good as getting after the quarterback as Clemson.”
Clemson is currently a 5.5-point underdog after the Crimson Tide have been as much as a 9-point favorite in the last week, per Vegas Insider.