College football often comes down to a battle of who wins in the trenches -- that classic battle of wills between the offensive and defensive lines.
ESPN College GameDay anchor Rece Davis and ESPN college football analyst Mark May said Monday night's national championship matchup between No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Alabama will come down to exactly that.
"I hate to sound clichéd, but it’s who can impose their will -- who can take advantage of the matchup that they have, that they perceive that they have an edge in," Davis said.
May said Alabama's intimidating defensive unit hasn't faced a quarterback like Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson this season, but the Crimson Tide have the potential to make the dual-threat QB throw more than he might like.
"They’re the best team in the country at stopping the run – only 71 yards per game," May said. "If they can stop the run and make (Clemson) one-dimensional, it’s going to be a tough day and a long day for Deshaun Watson.
"(The Crimson Tide) rotate five or six guys in the front seven that can play on any team, start on any team. They’re all lean and mean."
On the other side of the ball, Davis said Alabama's offense, led by Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry, has the potential to wear down the Tigers' defense.
"Clemson has a really good defensive front, but it’s not deep. They’ve played a ton of snaps, and a couple of guys have told me -- they admitted they were gassed by the end of North Carolina and the ACC championship game," he said.
"They’ve got their legs and their wind back under them, but if they can’t get off the field and Alabama can keep them out there, then that’s a potential where Alabama can exploit -- I don’t want to say a weakness, but let’s just say a potential vulnerability."