TAMPA–We write this with the word IF as a prominent part of the equation.

Clemson can win its second national championship on Monday night. The Tigers, having withstood the overwhelming  force of the Crimson Tide of Alabama a year ago and coming within 5 points and a couple of trick plays from an upset, will not be awed. And in QB Deshaun Watson they have the best QB Alabama  has seen since…well…the last time Alabama faced Clemson.

So let’s make the pick: Clemson 27, Alabama  24 IF the Tigers can play a turnover free game.

Now we know Watson has thrown 17 interceptions this season and Clemson has been mistake prone during its run to its second consecutive national championship, and Alabama’s defense is better producing points than many FBS team OFFENSES, so such a prediction is risky business,  but until proven otherwise that’s our pick and we’re sticking to it.

Clemson wins.