Clemson might be No. 1 in the rankings, but they are clearly not seen that way in Las Vegas.
With ten days left until the college-football championship game, the Tigers have opened up as significant underdogs to No. 2 Alabama. Las Vegas sports books have the Crimson Tide favored by between six and seven points, with most landing on 6.5.
That’s not surprising, given Alabama’s 38-0 rout of Michigan State in Thursday’s semifinal and Nick Saban’s championship pedigree. A victory by the Crimson Tide would give Saban his fifth national championship and fourth since 2009.
Clemson, though, is used to the underdog role. Even though they came into their semifinal as the clear No. 1 team, it was No. 4 Oklahoma that was favored by four points. The Tigers shut down the high-octane Sooners offense while Deshaun Watson passed for 187 yards and rushed for 145 more in a 37-17 victory.
They did lose star defensive Shaq Lawson to a knee strain early in the game, but he said afterward that he expects to play against Alabama.
He’ll be needed against the Crimson Tide, who stunned Michigan State by putting the ball in the hands of quarterback Jake Coker instead of letting Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry do all the work. Coker threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns, while Henry only carried 20 times for 75 yards, though he did score twice.