Humans vs. Machines: Football experts choose Clemson. Computers and Vegas back Bama

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Bryant Denny Stadium and the Million Dollar Band

Who will win the National Championship game between Alabama and Clemson on Monday night?

The verdict is in.  The experts have chosen Clemson. The computers pick Alabama.

It’s the classic battle between a human forecaster’s intuition against computer generated game simulations and models.

Experts “Humans” narrowly pick Clemson

Up until Friday evening, January 5th, Bham Now tallied the published predictions for the National Championship game from college football experts at Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and Althon Sports.

The results? From a total of 25 college football experts, Clemson was chosen to win 14 times to Alabama’s 11.

Here is how the predictions were broken out per publication (we’ve also hyperlinked the articles explaining their choices):

Sports Illustrated – Clemson 5 – Alabama 2

CBS Sports – Alabama 4 – Clemson 3

Althon Sports – Clemson 6 – Alabama 5


Denny Chimes on the campus of the University of Alabama

Machines back Bama

All is not lost for Bama fans, with computers firmly siding with Alabama to win. Here are results from two of the most prominent computer generated “prediction/forecast” websites.

Fox Sports – – The Fox Sports website ran 501 game simulations with Alabama coming out on top 58.1% of the time.

FiveThirtyEightNate Silver’s famous political site is actually very good at predicting football and baseball games. Their forecast for the Alabama – Clemson game is based on 20,000 simulations and numerous models.  They give Alabama a 62% chance to win.

Clemson fans can find hope that this same website gave Hillary Clinton a 71.4% chance of winning the electoral college.

The tie breaker?  Perhaps Vegas odds-makers.

In the end, perhaps the “wise guys” in Vegas can be the tie-breaker. According to bookmakers, the Alabama Crimson Tide is a 6.5 point favorite.  They have held steady with that number now for over a week, despite Alabama’s Offense Coordinator Lane Kiffin’s departure on Monday.

Who will win Monday night? I think we can all agree it will be another close game like 2016 classic.




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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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