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5.5** ncaaf play of the day - Alabama vs Clemson

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5.5** ncaaf play of the day - Alabama vs Clemson

Postby Pick Bot » Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:32 pm

Clemson +7 5.5* pod
The game between Michigan State and Alabama very well could have been 10-7 or even 0-0 at the half, but everything went Alabamas way at the end of the half with the interception with Michigan State trying to go in with an interception. That was a huge momentum change in this game with Alabama taking the ball to start the second half.

They give up the TD to start the second half and go down 17-0, I think they came out with the running game was a little stupid for the Spartans offense that had so much success on their last drive before the half before throwing an interception. I thought at that point they needed to hand it over to cook and go no huddle, because it allowed Alabamas front to have issues and they had success moving the ball. But they were not agressive enough and the game got further away and it almost seemed like Michigan State was beaten in the first 5 minutes of the third quarter. During the game there are a few things I noted and compared with Clemson as reasons why I feel completely comfortable backing Clemson in this game.

Michigan State receivers also had many drops. I like the fact that Deshaun Watson can spread the ball around more to his receivers finding the weakness in the defense, and he’ll have more balance with the running game that should keep Alabama’s defense on edge.

Michigan State’s special teams. Nearly every game Alabama has made a play in their special teams to change the game, and again it happened in the third quarter against the Spartans on a punt return TD. Michigan State had one of the worst STE in the country at 108th, Clemson is at 89th not much better, but I don’t see Alabama again making those type of plays against Clemson. Clemson is very poor in kick off return coverage allowing 2 TD’s on the season, but that’s not at all where Alabama excels. In fact Alabama has only averaged 18.94 yards per kick off return. Alabama has 5 TD’s on punt returns this year and that’s where the danger is, but enter Clemson’s punt return coverage which is very good only allowing 15 returns on the season for 85 yards where Michigan State allowed well over 250 yards and 2 TD’s with an average of 12.81. I think Clemson can eliminate the special teams game for Alabama although they may sacrifice some field position.

Michigan State found a weakness. Before the half Michigan State picked up the pace and let Connor Cook run the offense and it did not allow Alabama to substitute along their defensive line which is the reason they are so strong. Depth is probably Alabama’s biggest strength. Michigan State is not used to moving fast and of course they did not make that adjustment in the second half of this game. Clemson however will likely use that in my opinion and it will come a lot more natural to them with the 13th ranked pace in the country (Michigan State is 70th). With that fact comes time of possession and Michigan State defense was on the field way too much. I think Clemson will have an easier time despite being 13th in pace they are actually 23rd in ball control with 32:23 minutes of TOP, but 34:58 over their last 3 games. Alabama is 4th and this could be what decides this game overall, but I don’t see it being lopsided like it was in the Cotton Bowl.

Michigan States offensive line struggled against a 4 man rush. Is Clemson’s offense line better or just as good? Well let’s look at the numbers. Clemson’s offensive line is ranked 8th in sack rate at 3.06% which is extremely impressive. Most systems with mobile QB’s have a very high sack rate, but they are top 10 in the country (Alabama is 42nd), Michigan State was 32nd. Clemson is also ranked very high in adjusted line yards at #9, 12th on standard downs, 27th on passing downs, 5th in power success and so on. To put those numbers in perspective Michigan State ranks 49th in adjusted line yards, 93rd on standard down, 65th on passing downs, and 14th in power success. Overall I would say this is the best offensive line Alabama’s defensive line has had to face from a numbers perspective and vice versa.

Can Clemson stop the run like Michigan State? Spartans stopped the run of Henry holding him to under 100 yards just as I predicted, but Coker just ripped them up going 25-30 against the man defense. Clemson can absolutely do the same thing in the running game. Clemson was impressive in the game against Oklahoma despite losing their best DE in Shaq Lawson who I expect to play on Monday. Even if he doesn’t Clemson’s line held up well against Oklahoma who was a top 20 rushing offense. Clemson is ranked 25th in rushing defense, 13th in rushing S&P+ and has faced many top rushing programs including 6 in the top 30 (3 in the top 15). Florida State is the only team that got close to their season average and they did so on 1 long play from a more explosive RB in Cook. Clemson absolutely should be able to force this into a game where Coker beats them.

Is Clemson secondary more talented? Do they give up the big plays like Michigan State struggled with. This could be the biggest question that decides this game, because Michigan State was very highly regarded, but their secondary obviously was not as good this year. Clemson ranks 2nd overall in completion % (Mich State 85th), 7th in opposing QB passer rating (Michigan State 68th), 15th in passing yards allowed per attempt (Michigan State 77th). Clemson has some big safeties and can spend a lot of time in the nickel without the threat of giving up big running plays due to the size of their safeties Jayron Kearse is 6’4 and 210lbs and Travis Blanks is a hybrid LB that is probably the X factor here who can cover Alabama’s TE. There is a reason why Clemson was #1 in opponent third down conversion % on the year.

Can Clemson have a better day rushing the passer? There were times in the game where Michigan State was just a half second too slow. That may be where the difference of 4 star athletes will come in to play. Clemson has the 3rd ranked sack rate unit right behind Alabama. They sacked Oklahoma on 10.42% of their drop backs, and Alabama is 42nd in protecting their QB an obvious risk for them if they are going to come out throwing the ball. Overall I have complete faith in Brent Venables as a defensive coordinator getting Clemson into the right situations. He’s been doing this a long long time where Michigan State has two co-defensive coordinators something I would not like.
Coker got way too comfortable against Michigan State and I don’t see that happening here against Clemson who have better athletes and a better secondary to frustrate this offense.

What did I notice from Clemson’s game? Clemson clearly has a better running offense with the added dynamic of Watson, as their RB is very under rated running the option Watson and RB Wayne Gallman have both rushed for more than 1,000 yards. However, Watson is the best player on the field and the best QB Alabama has faced. Alabama’s defense has recruited to stop this type of QB, but they haven’t really seen anyone quite like Watson. Watson has really impressed me on the field and off the field and I think he’s just as good of a thrower. He’s made the occasional mistake including the dumb throw before the half against Oklahoma, but in big games this year his team has taken care of the ball. Notre Dame, Florida State, UNC, and Oklahoma they are +7 in TO margin and +1 or more in each of those games. Clemson can be positive in this next game and they will be national champions. Watson also just as good throwing the ball if not better than Cook.

Clemson just seems like a team of destiny to me. Although it will not be easy. I think this is a close game no matter how you look at it. Clemson really could have named their score against Oklahoma. They had arguably the more impressive game against a better opponent. However, they still feel like they are being disrespected. This game is and should be a hell of a game, but my money is on Clemson to shock the nation.

NOTE: If you can’t get this at +7 wait and monitor the line movements. Public money should push this back up to 7 at some point over the weekend or on Monday, but I would still be a buyer at +6.5.
Pick Bot
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