For the fourth consecutive season, the Clemson Tigers (14-0) are squaring off against the Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0) in the College Football Playoff. And for the third time during that stretch, Clemson is listed as an underdog versus Alabama with the national championship on the line, although this is the first time both schools are undefeated.
The second-seeded Tigers are sitting as 5.5-point underdogs on the college football odds at most sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com after the top-seeded Crimson Tide had opened between -6 and -6.5 following the two national semifinal games last Saturday.
Clemson dominated the third-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a 30-3 rout before Alabama knocked off the fourth-seeded Oklahoma Sooners 45-34 to set up their fourth straight CFP meeting.
The Crimson Tide eliminated the Tigers with a 24-6 victory as a 3.5-point favorite in last year's semifinals prior to beating the Georgia Bulldogs for the national title. The teams split the previous two national championship game matchups, with Clemson winning 35-31 two years ago behind quarterback Deshaun Watson in an upset as a 6.5-point underdog at online sports betting sites.
The Tigers are hoping to win again this year with freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence under center, and he threw for 327 yards with three touchdowns against the Fighting Irish. Defensively, Clemson could not have played much better, holding Notre Dame to a first-quarter field goal and then pitching a shutout the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Alabama saw sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa return from an ankle injury in the win over Oklahoma and complete 24 of 27 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray helped the Sooners cover the spread though as 14.5-point underdogs with 308 yards through the air and 109 on the ground while being responsible for three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing).
The Tide have failed to beat the number in three of their last four games overall, according to the OddsShark College Football Database, while the Tigers improved to 7-2 against the spread in their previous nine after easily covering against the Irish as 10.5-point favorites.
The past two meetings for the NCAA title have each been decided by five points or less, so the best bet here is for Clemson to keep it close yet again and possibly win its second national championship in three years in another upset.