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Will Clemson vs Alabama Be Higher Scoring than Super Bowl 53?

Tua Tagovailoa
Bettors can wager on whether tonight's CFP title game between Tua Tagavailoa's Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers will be higher scoring than Super Bowl 53. Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire
  • BetOnline has a prop bet on whether tonight’s CFP title game will outscore the 2019 Super Bowl. 
  • The National Championship is the favorite, but its O/U is declining. 
  • Without knowing who will reach Super Bowl 53, is there value on either side of this wager?

There’s a fun way to get some last-minute action on tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game between Clemson and Alabama (8:00 PM ET at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA).

BetOnline has posted the following prop bet on whether tonight’s game will outscore Super Bowl 53 (Feb. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA).

2019 NCAAF National Championship vs Super Bowl 53

Game BetOnline‘s odds to be higher scoring
Clemson vs Alabama (Jan. 7) -145
Super Bowl LIII (Feb. 3) +125

Which side of this bet has better value right now? Let’s examine.

Alabama vs Clemson Probably Won’t Be a Shootout

The O/U for the National Championship game has decreased from 60.0 all the way to 57.0. The weather has played a small role in the decline, but the rain is expected to hold off and the field (which was just laid last week) should be reasonable. While not ideal for a track meet, these are not so-called “WUNDER” conditions either.

The real reason to expect a lower-scoring game is the Clemson defense. It’s ranked first in the entire nation in the S&P Defensive ratings and has held opponents to just 13.7 PPG (2nd-best). The only blemish on their resume is a 56-35 win over South Carolina, where the Gamecocks gained 600 yards on offense, including over 500 through the air.

Their second-worst performance was a 28-26 road win over Texas A&M, a game they led by 15 entering the fourth quarter.

The best defense Alabama faced this year, according to the S&P Defensive ratings, was Mississippi State [who] held ‘Bama to a season-low 24 points.

We can all agree Alabama is historically good, especially on offense. The Tide put up at least 35 points in all but two games this year. They hit the 50-point mark eight times.

But they didn’t exactly play a murder’s row of defenses.

The best defense Alabama faced this year, according to the S&P Defensive ratings, was Mississippi State (ranked #3). The Bulldogs held ‘Bama to a season-low 24 points and just 305 total yards. Clemson is better.

The next-best defense they played, LSU (#13), limited them to 29 (though Bama did have well over 500 yards of total offense).

On the flip side, the Alabama defense just held Oklahoma to 10 first-half points in the Orange Bowl (before getting conservative with a 21-point lead in the second half and half-coasting to a 45-34 win). They aren’t as dominant as recent Alabama defenses, but they are still ranked 12th in the S&P and full of five-star recruits who will soon be playing on Sundays.

Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is a matchup nightmare for a good-not-great Clemson offensive line. He could single-handedly destroy the Tiger run-game.

If I was betting the O/U in tonight’s game, I’d take the under, even at 57.0.

The Super Bowl Just Might Be a Shootout

The other half of this equation is a game whose participants are TBD. But none of the teams remaining in the NFL playoff bracket have a shut-down defense, and the favorites are all highly efficient on offense, as the DVOA statistics from Football Outsiders show.

Odds & Stats for Remaining NFL Playoff Teams

Team Odds to Reach Super Bowl53 at  BetOnline Off. DVOA Rank Def. DVOA Rank
New Orleans Saints +100 4th 11th
Kansas City Chiefs +150 1st 26th
LA Rams +200 3rd 19th
New England Patriots +225 5th 16th
LA Chargers +350 3rd 8th
Indianapolis Colts +450 10th 10th
Dallas Cowboys +600 24th 9th
Philadelphia Eagles +600 16th 15th

None of the four Super Bowl favorites has a defense that ranks in the top ten in terms of efficiency. The top-five Super Bowl favorites comprise the five-most efficient offenses in the league.

With the game being played indoors, there’s no chance of weather wreaking havoc.

Recent Super Bowls Have Been High-Scoring

The extra time to prepare for the Super Bowl has favored offenses lately. Five of the last six Super Bowls have gone over 50 points and the average number of points scored over the last six years is 56.3.

When you remember which offenses/defenses are left in this year’s bracket, you start to like the chances of that high-scoring trend continuing.

Betting Advice

The +125 odds for the Super Bowl in our prop-du-jour carry an implied probability of just 44.4%.

If the Super Bowl is a matchup between the Chiefs and almost anybody, the O/U will be very close to (potentially above) 57.0. The last three Super Bowls to include the Patriots (2015, 2017, 2018) have averaged  62.7 points per game.  When the Rams and Chiefs played in Week 11, they combined for over 100 points (54-51).

In sum, if the chalk holds, the Super Bowl is likely to be a matchup between high-scoring teams and susceptible defenses. Getting +125 right now is solid value.

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Sascha was a hockey player in his youth, a lawyer in his capricious mid-20s, and has been SBD's lead oddsmaker/number cruncher since 2014. He writes about everything you can possibly put odds on. He's happiest when those things are football, baseball, hockey and basketball (in that order).