The No. 3 Clemson Tigers and No. 1 LSU Tigers are set to do battle for all the marbles in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. LSU ran through Oklahoma 63-28 in the Peach Bowl to punch its ticket to the title game, while Clemson needed some late-game heroics to get past Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl. LSU is searching for its first championship since 2007 and Clemson is looking for back-to-back titles.
This is the first time that Clemson has been an underdog this season, with the last time coming in last year’s national championship game against Alabama. Clemson was a 5-point ‘dog in that contest but posted a dominant 44-16 victory. As for the total, given the way Joe Burrow and LSU are moving the rock down the field, it should come as no surprise to see it coming in just shy of 70 points at 69.
If you have been focusing on other conferences outside of the SEC and weren’t aware of what 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow was doing, then the first half of the Peach Bowl was an eye-opener. The signal-caller completed 21 of 27 passes for 403 yards and seven touchdowns IN THE FIRST HALF! He also rushed for another major in the third quarter before giving way to backup QB Myles Brennan for the fourth quarter.
This offensive outburst is nothing new for a team averaging 48.9 points per game this season, the most in the nation, with a great balance between the passing game of Burrow and a rushing attack led by junior back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Defensively, LSU does have some openings that can be exposed, notably its secondary that allows 221.7 passing yards per game. Overall the defense gives up 21.2 ppg.
Since becoming the starter in Week 5 last year against Syracuse, all sophomore QB Trevor Lawrence has done is win. Clemson is a perfect 25-0 SU and 19-6 ATS over Lawrence’s 25 starts, including winning the national title last year with a 44-16 win over Alabama.
Against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, Clemson trailed with less than three minutes remaining but Lawrence got the ball and marched down the field from his own six-yard line to score a touchdown, needing just 66 seconds to do so, securing the 29-23 triumph. Lawrence did a terrific job of using his legs as well as his arm to create some offense, rushing for 107 yards with one touchdown in the victory.
There were some criticisms of Lawrence and Clemson as a whole in the early stages of the season and they were amplified after a narrow 21-20 triumph at North Carolina in Week 5. However, since then they have gone 9-0 SU and 8-1 ATS, scoring 49.3 ppg while surrendering just 11.2 ppg. Clemson has given up three touchdowns in a single game just once this season, leading the nation by allowing just 10.6 ppg. The defense held Ohio State to its fewest points this season in the Fiesta Bowl.