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Allstate Sugar Bowl: #4 Alabama Crimson Tide at #1 Clemson Tigers

Two Tough Defenses and Two Fine Ground Attacks Square Off

The Allstate Sugar Bowl CFP Semifinal games is a rematch of last year’s CFP Championship Final as the #4 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) meet the #1 Clemson Tigers (12-1). As it was in last year’s game, this year Alabama is favored. The Crimson Tide come to this playoffs after finishing second to Auburn in the SEC West with a record of 7-1. Alabama has run off 11 straight wins until they met #6 Auburn for their final regular-season game. ‘Bama lost that game 24-14 and it looked like they might not make it back to the CFP. But Auburn lost the SEC Championship game to the Georgia Bulldogs, which opened the door for the Crimson Tide to have a shot at the national title once again. The Clemson Tigers had a very tough schedule and in the middle of the season lost to a team they should have beaten, the Syracuse Orange. That 27-24 loss was the only disappointment in a season where the Tigers won the ACC crown by beating #7 Miami in the title showdown 38-3. Our Alabama plays Clemson 2018 Sugar Bowl pick offers the Crimson Tide at -3.5 and the over/under anywhere from 47 to 48.5.

Alabama Overview

The Tide is averaging 39.1 PPG. Of their 465 offensive yards, 265 are through the ground game. This is a team that likes to run and that has a quarterback that likes to run. QB Jalen Hurts (60.8 COMP%, 15 TDs, 1 INTs) has become a very accurate and controlled passer. At the same time, Hurts, who has run for 768 yards on 137 carries and has scored eight rushing TDs, is also a fine ground gainer. Along with Hurts, RBs Damien Harris (110 ATT, 906 YDs, 8.2 AVG, 11 TDs) and Bo Scarbrough (108 ATT, 549 YDs, 5.1 AVG, 8 TDs) offer solid rushing chops. The primary receiver is Calvin Ridley, who has the same number of receptions, 55, as the four other primary pass catchers combined. Ridley has been good for 896 total receiving yards while averaging 16.3 YPC.

The Crimson Tide has a stellar defense that’s allowing opponents just 11.5 PPG. Opponents are gaining just 164 yards through the air and 94 on the ground. This is a tough defense to crack. The Tide has 15 picks and 52 PD. They also have 30 sacks and more than 70 TFL. DB Ronnie Harrison (68 TCLs, 3 INTs, 3 PD) is a top-performer in the secondary who also has 2.5 sacks and 3.5 TFL. LB Raashan Evans (57 TCKLs, 5.0 SCKs, 10.5 TFL) is a solid run-stopper.

Crimson Tide Summary

  • Running game is deep and productive
  • Pass attack offsets rush attack
  • Defense stops opponents

Clemson Overview

The Tigers are averaging 448 YPG on offense, which includes 204 running and 244 passing. They’ve been good for an average of 35.4 PPG. QB Kelly Bryant (67.4 COMP%, 13 TDs, 6 INTs) is a good passer and solid runner. His rushing stats include 173 carries for 646 YDs, and 11 TDs. He’s averaging 3.7 YPA. Three other backs have rushed for a total of 26 TDs and over 1,700 yards. Of those three, Travis Etienne leads the group with 744 on 103 carries and 13 scores. He’s averaging 7.2 YPA. The receiving squad is fairly diverse and includes three pass catchers with 45 or more receptions each. WR Deon Cain lead the group with six TDs and 659 receiving yards.

The Clemson defense is solid and sure, as they are holding teams to 12.8 PPG. Overall, they are giving up 278 YPG to opponent offenses, which includes 113 rushing and 165 passing. Like Alabama’s D, this Clemson defense is reliable and stingy. The Tiger secondary has notched 15 interceptions and 52 PD. The D has forced 11 fumbles, 44 sacks, and over 100 TFL. Some of the key players include DE Clelin Ferrell (62 TCKLs, 8.5 SCKs, 17 TFL), LB Dorian O’Daniel (84 TCKLs, 5 SCKs, 10.5 TFL 2 INTs, 5 PD), DE Austin Bryant (47 TCKLs, 7.5 SCKs, 14.5 TFL, 1 INT), and CB/DB Ryan Carter (30 TCKLs, 3 INTs, 10 PD).

Tigers Summary

  • Excellent group of runners
  • Deep receiving contingent
  • Tough defense

Three Allstate Sugar Bowl Takeaways

If you look closely, you’ll note that in our Alabama plays Clemson 2018 Sugar Bowl pick, we offer four and not three takeaways-

  1. QB edge goes to ‘Bama
  2. RB edge, none; Receiver edge Tigers
  3. Defensive edge, Clemson

Our 2018 Allstate Sugar Bowl Pick

In developing our Alabama plays Clemson 2018 Sugar Bowl pick, we can’t help but feel that these two teams are very closely matched. However, even though they allowed one extra point per game than Alabama, we like what we see in the Clemson defense. We do think that a lot of points will go on the board, at least enough for the over. As far as our pick with the spread goes, we do like the Tigers at +3.5.

Summary Alabama Plays Clemson Picks: Clemson at +3.5 and over 47.0


Paul has been writing about sports betting and sports for more than a decade, offering picks on the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, as well as on college sports and European football. He's written thousands of season and post-season previews, innumerable articles on sports betting strategies, and various books on sports and sports betting.

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