I picked Clemson to win the national title in the preseason, and despite a bumpy road and a lot of shaky performances, I'm sticking with it.
I actually feel a lot more confident in that prediction now than I did 10 days ago. Here are three reasons why I'm sold on the Tigers.
The still have Deshaun Watson
I have way more confidence in Watson on this stage than I do in Alabama's true freshman QB Jalen Hurts.
Unlike a lot of guys who face the Tide, Watson has total confidence. He's lit these guys up before. He's proven to be a big game-player in the past.
He's also a bad matchup for Bama, which has had trouble with mobile QBs. Last year he amassed 478 yards against the Tide that included 73 yards rushing -- more than enough to keep Nick Saban's defense on its heels.
WR Mike Wiliams is a difference-maker
As effective as Watson was all season, he did it without his best weapon, rangy WR Mike Williams, who has racked up 90 catches for 1,267 yards and 10 TDs this season after recovering from a neck injury.
At the start of the season, Clemson faced arguably its most talented defensive opponent in Auburn (on the road). The 6-3, 225-pound Williams caught nine passes for 174 yards. The teams that have given Bama the most trouble have been the ones with mobile QBs and big physical WRs (se: Texas A&M's Mike Evans and Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell).
Bama's standout CB Marlon Humphrey also has been burned for several big plays this season, allowing over 16 yards per catch. Clemson loves to take its shots on 50-50 balls because the Tigers' staff loves one-on-one matchups they feel like they can exploit, especially with a guy as physical as Williams.
Clemson has a nasty defensive front
I think Clemson's defensive front matches up very well against the closest thing the Tide has to a weakness on its O-line -- which is its interior.
Keep an eye on No. 90 Dexter Lawrence. He's only a true freshman, but he's a rare talent at 6-5, 340-pounds with Freakish athleticism. New Tide OC Steve Sarkisian said: "I don't remember facing a team that the two defensive tackles combined have 17 and a half sacks." Another Tide coach told me he expects Lawrence will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. In a game littered with difference-maker D-lineman, Lawrence is the most gifted of them all. He got pressure on the opposing QB 46 times this season.
Washington had a big, talented defensive line, but the Huskies were missing their best pass-rusher (Joe Mathis). Clemson's bigger and even more athletic. Keep in mind, Hurts completes just 31 percent of his passes when he gets pressured -- down from 74 percent when he's kept in a clean pocket, according to Pro Football Focus stats.