Alabama opens as TD(ish) favorite on Clemson

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The confetti has barely stopped flittering its way down as we ring in yet another New Year, but that doesn’t mean the sports books aren’t still hard at work.

New Year’s Eve, Clemson, following a competitive first half, took Oklahoma to the woodshed in the second half to secure a convincing 37-17 win in the Orange Bowl.  In the second half of the College Football Playoff doubleheader, Alabama eschewed any type of first-half parsing in routing Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl.

With those two results, the second CFP national championship game is set: Alabama vs. Clemson a week from Monday in Glendale Arizona.  And, according to BookMaker Sportsbook, the Tide will open as a 6.5 favorite on the Tigers, the only undefeated FBS team in the country.

Below is the book’s explanation:

We saw a pair of one-sided games in the semifinals. The Clemson win was more impressive, although not terribly surprising. Alabama beat a vastly inferior squad as the Spartans were the lowest rated team among the four in our eyes. We didn’t want to open on the key number so we could let the action dictate which direction we went. The expected shift is Alabama, and we’ve already moved some juice after opening at -6.5 (-110). The namesake, the pedigree, most is going to be Alabama money.

That said, expect that line to shrink in the 10 days between now and the kickoff of what should be a very, very intriguing title game.

Alabama’s Anderson repeats as Bronko Nagurski award winner

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. has become the second two-time winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award given to the nation’s top collegiate defensive player.

Anderson was presented the award on Monday night by the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

The 6-foot-4, 243-pound Anderson had 10 sacks for the No. 5-ranked Crimson Tide this season. He also won the award last year after recording 17 1/2 sacks.

Anderson, a junior, had two sacks in Alabama’s regular-season win finale against rival Auburn and had his first touchdown when he returned an interception 25 yards against Louisiana-Monroe.

Anderson joins former Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald as the only two-time winner of the award. Fitzgerald won the award in 1995 and 1996 and later went on to become the head coach at Northwestern.

It’s unclear if Anderson will enter the NFL draft or return to Alabama next season.

FSU standout QB Jordan Travis returning for senior season

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis, the fourth player in school history to account for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a single season, is staying in school for his senior year.

Travis made the announcement Monday, the same day hundreds of players across the nation entered the NCAA transfer portal or declared for the NFL draft. Travis chose a different path and could be an early favorite in next year’s Heisman Trophy race.

“So many memories have been made on this field and we’re not done yet,” Travis said in a highlight video posted on social media. “See y’all in 2023.”

A fourth-year junior, Travis has 22 touchdown passes to go along with seven rushing scores, one receiving and just four interceptions. He has led the 13th-ranked Seminoles (9-3) to five consecutive wins as they prepare to play Oklahoma (6-6) in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando.

Travis joined FSU’s three Heisman Trophy winners – Charlie Ward in 1993, Chris Weinke in 2000 and Jameis Winston in 2013 – to account for 3,000 yards and 30 TDs in a season. He is one of six QBs in Power Five conferences with at least 20 TD passes and four or fewer interceptions.