WhatIfSports 2016 CFP National Championship prediction: computer simulation favors Clemson
WhatIfSports.com simulated Alabama vs. Clemson 501 times to predict a champion.
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By Adam MeyerWhatIfSports.com
Using the same college football simulation engine that accurately predicted 80.0 percent of all 2015 FBS games, WhatIfSports.com simulated the College Football Playoff National Championship 501 times. For more bowl coverage, view our predictions for all 41 bowls.
In the second-ever College Football Playoff, it is the first time that the No. 1 and No. 2 seed will meet in the title game.
Though undefeated in the regular season, Clemson was the underdog against Oklahoma. However, the Tigers pounced on their opportunity and unhinged the bandwagon of the Sooners.
Sophomore quarterback, Deshaun Watson, was held to only 187 passing yards, but he did most of his damage on the ground. He rushed for 145 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries. It was a career-high for rushing yards and tied a career-high in carries for Watson.
It's the second half of the season that has really showcased Watson's ability to run. In the first eight games of the 2015 season, Watson never reached the 100-yard plateau and he didn't carry the ball more than 16 times in a game. However, in the last three games for the Tigers, Watson has rushed for over 110 yards and has at least 21 carries in each contest.
If it's a running game the Tigers want, Alabama will gladly oblige. The Crimson Tide defense leads the FBS by only allowing 74 rushing yards per game.
As for Alabama's ground and pound offense, Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry has either rushed for over 200 yards, scored at least two touchdowns, or both in the past eight games. The Spartans prevented Henry from rushing for over 75 yards, but you can attribute that to Michigan State's run defense (seventh-best in the FBS) and the fact that Henry wasn't needed toward the end of the game.
Clemson allows an average of 128.8 rushing yards per game. Against the Sooners, Samaje Perine tallied 58 rushing yards on 15 attempts (3.9 yards per carry). Before that, Elijah Hood of UNC rushed for 65 yards on 14 attempts, while quarterback Marquise Williams notched 81 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Now, as for the big reveal, using our college football simulation engine, we played Clemson vs. Alabama 501 times and it seems as though Larry Culpepper will be presenting the trophy to Dabo Swinney and the unbeaten Tigers. Clemson won 54.5 percent of the contests by an average score of 26.1-25.9.