The Gould Standard pick: Clemson-Alabama

TAMPA, Fla.—A seven-point line is awfully big. It wouldn’t surprise me if better-than-that Clemson won its first national championship since 1981. The one-touchdown-underdog Tigers have tons of talent around, arguably the nation’s best quarterback (Deshaun Watson) and they came oh-so-close in their heart-breaking 45-40 loss to Alabama in last year’s national championship game.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

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But I’ve been saying since August that when you pick against Alabama, you’re swimming against the Tide.

Bama didn’t play its A-game against Clemson a year ago—and won. It didn’t play its best game against Washington a week ago—and won.

There are concerns. Will true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts stay out of the big mistake? Will the Tide weather the sudden change to Steve Sarkisian, who will call the plays, at offensive coordinator?

I’m going to say yes on both counts. And oh, that defense. . . Alabama is too talented, and Nick Saban, who already might be the best college football coach of all-time, is too thorough.

Call it Alabama 31-27, as Saban wins his sixth national championship and adds another bullet point on his resume for being the best coach in college football history.[/membership]