To the surprise of no one, outside of Texas A&M and Cincinnati, the selection committee selected Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame to play in the 2020 College Football Playoffs.
The Alabama Crimson Tide, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish represent five of the last six College Football National Champions.
The CFP semifinal games will take place on January 1st, 2021, with Alabama vs Notre Dame in the first game and a rematch between Clemson and Ohio State in the second contest.
Following the announcement of the four CFP teams, College Football betting sites released their odds on which team will win the CFP National Championship on January 11th, 2021. Let’s huddle up to examine these odds and hoist the trophy with our winning prediction.
THE #CFP IS SET
3. Ohio State
4. Notre Dame
Who do you have winning the whole thing? pic.twitter.com/zZkgyYEIqQ
— Elite College Football (@EliteCollege_FB) December 20, 2020
National Title Betting Odds
The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
- Alabama Crimson Tide (-175)
- Clemson Tigers (+250)
- Ohio State Buckeyes (+625)
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+2000)
Alabama Crimson Tide (-175)
The Alabama Crimson Tide enter the CFP for the 6th time in its seven year existence. They’re ranked #1 in the country and are the consensus favorites to win the National Championship for the third time in the CFP era.
Alabama won the Champions in 2015 when they defeated Clemson 45 to 40. They lost the next year to Clemson before returning in 2017 to beat Georgia. Clemson beat Alabama in 2018 to win the championship. The Crimson Tide are looking for their 5th Championship game appearance.
On the Season, Alabama has one of the best offenses in the country. Just take a look at the following numbers:
- 1st in Scoring Offense at 49.8ppg
- 2nd in Total Offense at 543.9 total ypg
- 5th in Passing Offense at 345.1 ypg
- 44th in Rushing Offense at 189.8 ypg
Alabama has arguably the best offensive line in the country with multiple players vying for the Outland Trophy Award.
Furthermore, they have the best wide receiver in the country with Devonta Smith also being the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy Award. Smith has 98 receptions for 1,511 yards and 17 TDs in 11 games.
If that weren’t enough, the Crimson Tide have one of the best running backs in College Football as Najee Harris has totaled 1,262 rushing yards and a staggering 24 rushing TDs. He also has 32 receptions for 316 yards and 3 TDs. He easily could be a Heisman Trophy winner as well.
QB Mac Jones has improved from last year and is definitely overlooked in the CFP largely due to the amount of talent that Alabama has.
Clemson Tigers (+250)
The Clemson Tigers are looking to play in their third straight National Championship game. They won in 2018 by beating Alabama. However, last year, they were crushed by LSU and Joe Burrow by the score of 42 to 25.
The Tigers have played in four National Championship games since the sport went to the CFP format. They’re 2-2 in these games. Trevor Lawrence is 1-1 in National Championship games.
Speaking of Lawrence, he should be the Heisman Trophy winner, but he missed two games due to testing positive for covid. One of those games resulted in a loss to Notre Dame in double overtime.
Yet, the Tigers were able to avenge that loss by crushing the Fighting Irish 34 to 10 in the ACC title game. They will face Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl and it will be the 3rd time these schools have faced off in the CFP.
Despite playing only nine games, Trevor Lawrence finished with 2,753 yards, 22 TDs and 4 INTs. Don’t overlook his rushing ability as he’s put up 211 yards and 7 rushing TDs in those nine games as well. However, it’s Lawrence’s ability to raise his level in big games that really gives Clemson a shot to win.
The rematch is on ?
Clemson and Ohio State will meet in the #CFBPlayoff semifinal for the third time. pic.twitter.com/aehVAWUJl7
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 20, 2020
Along with Lawrence, Clemson will also feature the only other running back that can compete with Alabama’s Harris and that’s Travis Etienne. The senior running back has been a stud the last three years including in the CFP.
For the season, Etienne has 882 rushing yards, 13 rushing TDs, 44 receptions, 524 receiving yards and 2 TDs. His receiving numbers are the most in his career.
His rushing numbers are half of what he had the last two years, but Clemson also didn’t run the ball as much. Etienne has over 50 less carries than he did the last two seasons.
With Lawrence and Etienne returning to the CFP, you can’t count out Clemson.
Ohio State Buckeyes (+625)
Of the four teams in the CFP, the Ohio State Buckeyes played the fewest games. The Big Ten got off to a late start due to the pandemic, which also resulted in the cancellation of three Ohio State games. Yet, what we did see of the Buckeyes, was surely impressive.
Along with Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields is the best QB in the country. In fact, these two quarterbacks are expected to go as the top two players taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Fields finished 4th in the FBS in completion percentage and led the Big Ten in quarterback rating. However, it was the Buckeyes rushing attack that really devoured the competition.
The Buckeyes finished 8th in the country scoring 42.5ppg and 5th in rushing at 275 rushing ypg. They also tallied nearly 530 total ypg. This offense is explosive and can maul opposing defenses with an o-line that’s every bit as good as Alabama’s offensive line.
The one concern for Ohio State is that their pass defense was far too inconsistent at times and gave up a surprising 261.3 ypg. That’s not a typical Buckeyes secondary.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+2000)
Of the four teams in the CFP, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish has never won a National Championship in under this current postseason format. It’s the second CFP appearance for Notre Dame in the last three years.
The Fighting Irish played in the ACC this year and it ended up being an exciting season for not only the team, but the conference as well. Notre Dame was able to defeat the Clemson Tigers during the regular season, but fell short of sweeping the Tigers as they lost in the ACC title game 34 to 10.
The 9-0 regular season for Notre Dame also saw them defeat the high powered North Carolina offense and show that QB Ian Book can win games for this program.
Brian Kelly is the first Notre Dame coach to ever win 10 games in 4 straight seasons. Part of that is Notre Dame is slowly working its way among the nation’s talent elites.
“That is exactly how Kelly planned it.” – @TomLoy247 https://t.co/tF40NBub6z
— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) December 21, 2020
Unfortunately for Book, he has the least amount of talent supporting him and it’s going to be hard to compete with the explosive offenses that the other three teams have.
Furthermore, this Notre Dame secondary is going to be under pressure for four quarters as they try to slow down the Alabama passing attack.
The only chance that Notre Dame has in their game against Alabama is to run the ball, control the clock, and keep the Crimson Tide offense on the sidelines. Sadly for ND fans, that’s not going to happen which is why they’re the biggest underdogs of the CFP.
Which Team Will Win the CFP Championship?
Alabama enters their semifinal matchup against Notre Dame as a 19.5 point favorite which is the biggest spread ever for a CFP game.
The Talent Gap Between the Two Teams Is Extreme
Yet, there’s still a very small chance that Notre Dame could hang with the Crimson Tide on New Year’s Day. Ball control and running the ball will be the only shot that the Fighting Irish have in that matchup.
Unfortunately, that’s asking too much of a team that’s not at the level of the other three programs in regards to overall talent.
In the other semifinal, I have Clemson defeating Ohio State in what should be another competitive game just like their thrilling Fiesta Bowl in last year’s CFP.
However, Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson offense should be able to take advantage of an Ohio State secondary that gives up over 260 passing yards per game.
Furthermore, Ohio State QB Justin Fields struggled in his two games against solid defenses this season. He threw three interceptions in a 42-35 win over Indiana. Additionally, he went 12-of-27 for 114 yards and two INTs against Northwestern in the Big Ten title game.
It’s hard to think that Fields will outduel Lawrence in the Sugar Bowl when he just hasn’t been up to par this season. Clemson will pull away from Ohio State in the second half and return to the National Championship for the 3rd straight season.
The Predicted CFP National Championship Game
For the 4th time in the last seven years, we will see Clemson take on Alabama for the National Championship. Now, some critics and fans will complain that it’s boring seeing the same teams win. I don’t believe that’s the case here.
You have the perennial top dog in Alabama, which is like the 33rd pro football team, and Clemson who has been the only team to beat Alabama on the big stage on a consistent basis. Furthermore, you have Trevor Lawrence who could go down as one of the greatest college QBs of all-time.
College Football Playoff set: Alabama vs Notre Dame and Clemson vs Ohio State on New Year’s Day.
Read more from College Football Writer @ralphDrussoAP >> https://t.co/gQdYdhL083 pic.twitter.com/PvjxdfWjAr
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) December 20, 2020
This will be Lawrence’s third straight CFP and potentially his third straight National Championship game. It should’ve been a Heisman Trophy award for the QB also, but covid prevented that.
Think about it, Lawrence could’ve left college with two National Championships, a Heisman Trophy, and three straight appearances in the title game along with numerous other awards and accomplishments.
Although he won’t get the Heisman this year, that doesn’t mean Lawrence isn’t the best QB in the CFP and the country.
Clemson has upset the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide before as it came in the 2019 CFP Championship game, the conclusion of the 2018 season, where they won 44 to 16.
Alabama was a powerhouse that year at 14-0 with Tua Tagovailoa at QB, Damien Harris and Joshua Jacobs at RBs, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III at receivers, and Irv Smith Jr. at TE. The offense was a juggernaut just like this year.
Yet, Clemson went in and soundly beat them. This year, I expect the game to be closer, but I am going with Clemson to pull off another upset and win their 2nd National Championship in the Trevor Lawrence era. The +250 odds offers solid value as well.
CFP Championship Winner – Clemson Tigers (+250)