National Championship Prediction: Can Clemson win in The Big Easy?
|Monday, January 13, 2020, 8:01 AM- -|
Clemson takes on LSU and chases history, all in the same night. This one should be a good one.
No. 3 Clemson takes on No. 1 LSU in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at the Superdome in New Orleans Monday night. It’s two 14-0 teams chasing perfection, a title and a piece of history.
Another Clemson championship would be Clemson's fourth football title in school history, joining the 1981, 2016 and 2018 squads.
Clemson enters the contest coming off of a thrilling semifinal performance in which the Tigers overcame a 16-0 first-half deficit to earn a 29-23 victory against No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. The victory was Clemson's fifth-largest comeback in school history, the second-largest under Head Coach Dabo Swinney and its largest in postseason play.
NO. 3 CLEMSON ( 14-0) VS. NO. 1 LSU (14-0)
WHEN: MONDAY, JAN. 13, 2020 8 p.m. EST
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (72,000) New Orleans, La.
TELEVISION : ESPN Play-By-Play Announcer - Chris Fowler Color Commentator - Kirk Herbstreit Sideline Correspondents - Tom Rinaldi, Maria Taylor.
NATIONAL RADIO: ESPN Play-By-Play Announcer - Sean McDonough Color Commentator - Todd Blackledge Sideline Correspondents - Ian Fitzsimmons, Holly Rowe
CLEMSON RADIO: CLEMSON TIGERS NETWORK Play-By-Play Announcer - Don Munson Color Commentators - Tim Bourret, Brad Scott Sideline Correspondent - Reggie Merriweather.
*Clemson is attempting to become the first repeat national champions in the College Football Playoff era.
*Clemson is attempting to become the first team to win back-to-back national championships since Alabama in 2011-12.
*Clemson is attempting to become the first team to win back-to-back national championships with a perfect record since 1994-95, when Nebraska won championships with records of 13-0 and 12-0 respectively. The only other schools to do so in the AP Poll era were Oklahoma (1955- 56), Army (1944-45) and Minnesota (1940-41).
*Clemson is attempting to become the third team in the NCAA's list of consensus national champions since 1950 to win three national championships in four years, joining 2009-12 Alabama and 1994-97 Nebraska. Clemson would be the fourth team in the AP Poll era (since 1936) to do so, a list that also includes 1946-49 Notre Dame.
*Clemson attempting to become the first school to win four national titles as members of the ACC. Pitt, Miami and Georgia Tech have won at least four national championships, but all of Pitt and Miami's titles predated the schools joining the ACC, as did three of Georgia Tech's four titles.
*Clemson attempting to become the first team to win three national championships in the College Football Playoff era.
*Clemson is attempting to win its 30th consecutive game, dating to the start of the 2018 season, to take sole possession of the longest winning streak in ACC history by surpassing the 29 consecutive wins posted by the 2012-14 Florida State Seminoles. –
*Clemson is attempting to post a 30-game winning streak to match the 1968-70 Texas Longhorns for the 11th-longest streak in FBS history. It would represent the first NCAA-recognized 30-game streak by an FBS team since Miami's 34-game streak across the 2000- 03 seasons. (Note: USC won 34 consecutive games from 2003-05, but the NCAA does not recognize the streak after 14 of the victories were vacated.)
WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL
Hey, remember that other quarterback in the game? Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence hasn’t lost a game in his Clemson career and looks to continue an amazing second half of the season. The sophomore has not tossed an interception since Oct. 19 and passed for 3,431 yards and 36 touchdowns over 14 games. Lawrence connected on 67.6 percent of his throws and has five completions of 60 yards or more.
Lawrence proved he can run the ball against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, carrying the ball 16 times for 107 yards. Running back Travis Etienne ran for 1,536 yards and 18 touchdowns on just 192 attempts this year. He averaged eight yards per carry and posted six runs of 40 or more yards.
LSU’s defense hasn’t been elite but it’s still pretty salty, giving up just 21.7 points per game and 5.1 yards per play.
WHEN LSU HAS THE BALL
Joe Burrow has been the best quarterback in college football this season, and he’s led a resurgence of an LSU offense that had grown stagnant under former head coach Les Miles. LSU averages 48.9 points and just one team (Auburn) managed to hold Burrow and company under 30 points and to less than six yards a snap.
Burrow has connected on 77.6 percent of his throws for 5,208 yards and 55 scores to six interceptions.
He has some big-time targets to throw to in Ja’Marr Chase (75 catches) and Justin Jefferson (102), along with Terrance Marshall (43) and tight end Thaddeus Moss (42).
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire accounted for 1,304 rushing yards and 16 rushing scores and 50 receptions for 399 yards.
Clemson’s defense has been outstanding against the pass this season, but without dominant line play defensive coordinator Brent Venables has had to bring pressure from all over the field – corners have blitzed, Iinebackers have blitzed, and safeties have blitzed. Burrow has been outstanding against the blitz, however, and this would be a good time to see one of those young defensive ends (Xavier Thomas) have a breakout game.
LSU will make plays, get yards, and score points. Clemson has to follow the same formula it followed against Ohio State – make LSU kick field goals in the red zone.
ADVANTAGE: SLIGHT TO LSU
LSU is dangerous on punt returns, ranking 20th nationally, and kicker Cade York has hit 21-of-26 field goals this season. Clemson still has questions about kicker BT Potter, but punter Will Spiers had the best game of his career against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson has shut down punt and kick return teams this season.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
Burrow and the LSU offense are almost unstoppable and most folks around the country believe this is LSU’s game to lose. Many are predicting a track meet with points galore. Both defenses will have something to say about that. The lights will be a little brighter in the Superdome (figuratively, it’s an awful venue) and the pressure will be a little higher than it was against Oklahoma. I sat in the press box and watched LSU dismantle Oklahoma and if I had been forced to make a prediction then, I would have said LSU.
But this Clemson team has been quietly confident all week, just like last year before the game against Alabama. I am also hearing the same kind of things out of the Clemson camp I heard last year. The champs are still the champs until someone knocks them off.
LSU will do its thing, but Venables will have enough answers to give the Clemson offense time to shine.
FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 37, LSU 35
Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 41-38 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 34-31 Clemson
Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 38-24 Clemson
Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 38-34 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 38-28 Clemson