On Monday night the Clemson Tigers (#3) will take on the LSU Tigers (#1) in New Orleans. Clemson and Head Coach Dabo Swinney are seeking their third National Championship in four years. The LSU Tigers haven’t won a natty since Les Miles led them to the title in 2007. With a win, Ed Orgeron would be the third straight LSU Head Coach to win the big game, following in the footsteps of Miles and Nick Saban.
Currently, LSU is six points favorite in what is a glorified home game. LSU has been dominate this season, beating some of the toughest opponents in the country and they have done it relatively easy. The storyline with LSU in my opinion, is whether or not this type of success is sustainable? Some would argue that it is a generational QB talent in Joe Burrow, a phenomenal offensive coordinator in Joe Brady who might be leaving LSU for an NFL OC job. While Ed Oregeron has been heralded as a motivator and we can all laugh at some of his quotes and antics, he deserves a lot of credit here and I believe this success is sustainable. Coach O, as he is affectionately known, was not highly sought after when he agreed to become the LSU Head Coach. LSU took a gamble on him and he responded in the highest order. In four season at LSU he has increased his win totals every year and has an overall record of 39-9 and has victories in the Citrus Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl. Orgeron has restored the roar in LSU and I believe we are going to be treated to quite the rivalry between LSU and Bama in the SEC for the next few years.
LSU brings so much fire power to the table. Heisman winner Joe Burrow is a stud, he should be the #1 pick in the NFL draft and I believe he is a no doubt NFL talent. He is the best collegiate QB I have seen in my entire life, that is high praise but it’s how I feel. i think his game translates to the next level and he will be an undoubted NFL star. This season, Burrow has thrown for 55 TD’s and only 6 interceptions, oh and a casual 5,208 yards and a completion percentage of 78%. Burrow is just the tip of the iceberg for this team, their rushing attack is arguably the best in CFB, they have units up front who toss defensive lineman around and that has led to a thousand yard season for Clyde Edwards – Helaire. He is averaging nearly seven yards a carry and has rushed for 16 TD’s this season. LSU has three outstanding receivers that have all scored more than ten touchdowns thus far. Terrace Marshall Jr, Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase will make life miserable for Clemson’s secondary. Jefferson and Chase are both over the 1,400 mark for receiving yards this season.
On defense LSU is FAST, they don’t force a crazy amount of turnovers aside from Derek Stingley who has 6 takeaways this season, but what their defense does is they pressure the QB. They have 35 sacks this season and force QB’s out of the pocket, out of their comfort zone and force them to make decisions on the move. I was fortunate enough to go to the Oklahoma/LSU game in Atlanta and let me tell you, watching LSU and their defense in person is an eye opening experience. When watching on TV I didn’t realize how quickly LSU defenders close in on the ball and force incompletion after incompletion and get their opponent in punt formation before you can blink.
While everyone is busy praising LSU, Dabo Swinney has made his players believe that they have not been respected and they adopted the chip on the shoulder mentality. Frankly, I think Clemson has been overlooked, they have been the most consistent team in college football the last few years and for some reason this season Clemson has continually been picked to lose when facing a top level team. The fact of the matter is that Clemson has a QB in Trevor Lawrence who has never lost a game. Lawrence is a competitor and he has won on the biggest stage that a college kid can be on. He won’t be afraid to throw the ball but unlike LSU, Clemson has one primary receiving target and that is Tee Higgins, he compiled over 1,000 receiving yards and 13 TD’s this season. Clemson also can run the ball very effectively, they were stopped in that area against Ohio State so RB Travis Etienne will look to rewrite the script against LSU. Etienne has a phenomenal year running the ball outside of the CFP game vs OSU, he has rushed for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. In the CFP game vs OSU Etienne was able to make noise in the passing game, catching two crucial TD passes to secure victory for the Tigers. Etienne grew up in Louisiana watching the LSU Tigers and on Monday night he is going to be driven to beat his hometown team in the biggest game of his life.
Clemson’s defense was able to total 41 sacks and 29 takeaways this season. That’s the deciding factor in this game, will Clemson be able to keep up the defensive production against LSU. The last thing Clemson or any team wants to get into is a shootout against the LSU Tigers. I believe in this Clemson defense and although I don’t anyone can completely stop this LSU offense, I believe they will make enough plays to keep Burrow uncomfortable and have to adjust to a more intense and pressured attack than he saw against Oklahoma.
I’m expecting this to be an absolute classic. I think we will see a lot of points early and some second half adjustments from both teams that will make it more difficult to move the ball. Clemson will be leading 35-31 late in the 4th quarter and Burrow will put a cherry on top of this historic season. Burrow leads LSU down the field for a TD drive and gives LSU the National Championship.
Prediction: LSU 38 – Clemson 35