College Football Playoff National Championship: Can Clemson Really Beat Alabama?

    Does Clemson really have a chance against the mighty Crimson Tide, or will this be an Alabama coronation?

    January 7, 2016

    Can the Clemson Tigers actually beat the Alabama Crimson Tide? No, but please, Clemson, please make this a good College Football Playoff National Championship.

    Follow or die … @PeteFiutak  

    (Warning, warning. Pretentious vanity article alert – as if I can write anything else.)

    Alabama is going to win the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, and it’s probably not going to be pretty.

    I know what’s coming next, because it happens every year when I make my national championship call. 

    I make my pick, and if I think I’ve got it, I’m going to go hard. And then comes the venom from fans of the other side because I’m yucking their yum.

    I’ve spent the entire season screaming that Alabama is by far the best team in the country. I’ve spent the entire year screaming that Clemson is good, but it’s not Alabama. So considering Clemson needs to run the ball to win, and it’s not going to be able to, and with the way Alabama just thumped Michigan State, of course I’m not going to jump off my season-long narrative now.

    Of course Alabama is going to win this thing without a problem, but I really, really hope I’m wrong.

    I’m hoping I’m like those who didn’t see Vince Young coming before his transcendent game against USC. I’m hoping to get blindsided like everyone last year who couldn’t be convinced – I really, really tried – that Oregon was about to get destroyed.

    I’m hoping that I’m missing something obvious, because after being in Miami all last week, seeing Clemson beat Oklahoma up close, and then watching the Cotton Bowl, the Campus Insiders cohorts and I assumed the line would open up around Alabama -10, thinking it should actually be about -17.

    It’s staying at -7, so others are seeing something I’m not.

    Again, I know what happens next.

    Clemson fans are going to read this, or they’re going to read some tweet or message board post, I’ll get ripped for being a moron or a hater or a moronic hater, and if form holds after my wrong pick of Oklahoma over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, there will be a few homophobic slurs mixed in with all the grouchies coming my way. But that’s par for the course.

    If I’m wrong, I’m right here to take the butt-kicking. I’ve had to do it before, and in the interest of what’s probably good for college football I’ll happily do it again. But there won’t be any need.

    I whiffed on the Florida State over Oregon and Alabama over Ohio State picks in last year’s playoff, and I originally did an “I really, really don’t know” column picking the Ducks to win the national title, but after a few days in Dallas and talking to the players – and most importantly, Urban Meyer with his “I’ve got this” demeanor having been through it all before – I changed the call to the Buckeyes in a blowout. That put me up to 12-5 picking the national title game since I started doing this back in 1998.

    Do your worst, Clemson fans. It’ll be nothing compared to what I had to deal with from Miami die-hards when I picked Ohio State in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl or what USC fans hit me with when I picked Texas in the 2006 Rose. But just as I start to get cocky, and just when I think this is all too easy, I get cold-cocked by a 2007 Florida blowout over Ohio State or a 2005 USC over Oklahoma to set me straight. (By the way, my other three misses were Florida State against Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange Bowl, the 2012 BCS Championship taking LSU over Alabama in a coin-flip call, and picking Texas over Alabama in the 2010 BCS Championship. I’ve learned to stop picking against Nick Saban in national championships.)

    I have no rooting interest in either side – other than that I’ll look like an idiot on the big screen in front of an entire stadium in Glendale if I’m wrong – but I want to see Deshaun Watson put on a performance for the ages. I want to see a team as good as this Alabama team play well, and for Clemson to take its game to a whole other level and be better. After what America was put through on December 31st and January 1st, college football fans deserve its biggest game to be a classic.

    But I have no idea how that’s going to happen.

    This year’s Alabama is different than any team I’ve ever seen when it comes to what it can do when it’s laser-focused. When it wanted to stop Leonard Fournette and destroy LSU’s season, it did. When it wanted to make up for last year’s playoff misfire with a statement against Michigan State, it rolled. When it needed to come through after the Ole Miss game, time and again the team did what it needed to on the big drive, the big stop, or the big play.

    And now it’s being told it can’t handle a mobile quarterback? Christian McCaffrey deserved the Heisman? Good luck with this, Clemson.

    If the Tigers really do pull this off, I’m hoping they win by just being better and don’t need a slew of ugly turnovers to take the title. Give Ole Miss credit for forcing five takeaways in the win over the Crimson Tide earlier in the season, but as the rest of the season proved, that was a total fluke.

    I don’t want this to be another famous disaster in the desert like the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, when, arguably, the greatest of all Miami teams totally dominated and totally choked against Penn State because Vinny Testaverde couldn’t stop throwing picks. I don’t want Clemson to win because Alabama gagged – I want Clemson to win the national championship by being the better team.

    I just want to see greatness in action. Whether it’s Saban winning his fifth national title, or Clemson going 15-0, this is going to be special no matter what happens or how this turns out.

    It’s been a fun road and a terrific season, but I can only see the future, I can’t change it.

    Sorry, Clemson.

    Check out on the College Football Playoff Pregame Show in the stadium before the game or streaming live on 

    MORE: Alabama vs. Clemson Predicition, Championship Game Preview


    Have the full Stadium experience

    Watch with friends

    Get rewards

    Join the discussion