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Expand chart
Data: ESPN; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

This post is from Axios Sports, the new daily newsletter launching today. Sign up free here.

Although Alabama and Clemson will meet in their third National Championship in four years tonight (they met in the semifinals the other year), there are still plenty of fresh storylines heading into the game.

The big picture: In their last three meetings, the highest Alabama ranked in points per game nationally was No. 15 (2017-18), while the highest Clemson ranked was No. 14 (2016-17). This season, Alabama ranked No. 2 (47.7 points per game) and Clemson ranked No. 4 (44.3 points per game), as both teams ascended to offensive juggernaut status.

  • It should be noted that they both allow very few points (Alabama ranked No. 5 in points allowed; Clemson ranked No. 1), but that was the case in all three of their previous playoff matchups, so the improved offenses are the key variable to watch.

More storylines:

  • NFL scouts will be busy: Tonight's game could feature 20 or more 2019 NFL draft picks. For comparison, the LSU-Alabama "Game of the Century" in 2011 featured 13.
  • Tua Tagovailoa vs. Trevor Lawrence: This might surprise you, but quarterback play matters quite a bit in football. Who knew?!
  • Dexter-less: Clemson will be without suspended star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence for the second straight game. The Tigers held up fine without him against Notre Dame, but Alabama's deep backfield presents a far more daunting challenge.
  • Empty seats: Due to location (Santa Clara is a trek for both fan bases) and a variety of other factors, ticket prices are historically low and the game might not even sell out — even with over 400 members(!) of Tua's family in attendance.

Details:

  • When: 8 pm ET, ESPN (with a variety of other ways to watch)
  • Lines: ALA -5.5 | O/U: 58 | Money: ALA -215 / CLEM: +180 (via Westgate Superbook)

Go deeper

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

3 hours ago - Technology

Race and technology in America

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The technology industry is famously determined to change the world — but its efforts to diversify its workforce and remove bias from its products haven't changed nearly enough.

Biden: "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been"

President Biden speaks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S Capitolon Oct. 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday honored members of law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2021 and saluted those who are currently serving.

Driving the news: "We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said.