It is the match that almost no one other than backers of the top two teams in the country wanted, but No. 1 Alabama will face No. 2 Clemson for the College Football Playoff Championship on Monday at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Dabo Swinney, Nick Saban
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and Alabama coach Nick Saban are meeting in the College Football Playoff Championship for the third time in four years. (Image: Sports Illustrated)

Alabama is a 5.5-point favorite over Clemson. That line moved from its opening number of seven, and though more money is coming in on Alabama, Clemson is seeing the sharps bring in big bets.

The line has dropped to five and at one point was at 4.5 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook after a customer plunked down a $60,000 wager on Clemson.

There are some oddsmakers that believe even that number is too high. Westgate sportsbook director John Murray told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he thought the line should be lower.

“Clemson is the smart side on that game,” Murray said. “I like Clemson. I think that line should be 3.5 or 4. I’ve said all year that Clemson’s got the players to stick with Alabama.”

Another reason to like the Tigers is their coach’s past performance in Bowl games. Dabo Swinney has covered nine of his last 10 bowl and CFP games while Alabama coach Nick Saban is 3-6 against the spread in bowl and CFP games and is 0-3 ATS in his last three national title games.

Familiarity Breeds Disgust

Both teams are undefeated and are extremely acquainted with one another. The two programs have met the last four years in the CFP, three of those times in the final game. Alabama won in 2016, while Clemson won the following year. The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers in the semifinals last year.

While there has been griping about the two teams dominating college football, the participants in Monday’s title game are not concerned about outside perceptions.

“Somebody’s got to beat us,” Alabama safety Deionte Thompson said of both teams. “We’re the best every year. We’re at the top for a reason.”

Swinney said this match up is what the public should want.

“I mean, I’m not going to apologize for having a great team and a great program and a bunch of committed guys, and Coach Saban is not, either,” Swinney said. “I think the objective is to get the two best teams. That’s kind of the way it is. If that’s not best for college football, then why did we even do it?”

Plenty of Alternative Action

If gamblers aren’t sure what team to pick in the contest, the Westgate is offering several proposition bets. The first is the over/under. The line opened at 60 points and has since moved to 58. With rain in the forecast for the morning in Northern California, that could affect the field conditions.

Other side bets include the longest touchdown by either team. The over/under is set at 53.5. Quarterback bets include how many touchdown passes Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will have, with over two at +120 and under two at -140. The same bet for Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is even money on over 2.5 and -120 on under 2.5.

Another interesting prop bet is who will score the game’s first touchdown. The favorite is Tigers running back Travis Etienne and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy at 5/1. Crimson Tide wide receiver Henry Ruggs III is at 6/1.

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