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After three-plus months of an action-packed college football season, the grand finale is finally upon us when the No. 1 and 3 College Football Playoff seeds will face off against one another for all the marbles. Playing in the National Championship Game for the fourth time in five years, Clemson comes into this one in the unfamiliar underdog role taking on an LSU team who has been the clear cut best unit over the past month. Their 63-28 demolishing of No. 4 Oklahoma put the nation on notice as they’re taking no prisoners and have their eyes now set on one thing, and one thing only. Let’s take a closer look at this showdown of Tigers and see where we can spot an edge.
- Current Line: LSU -5.5
- Over/Under: 69.5 (via PointsBet)
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Start Time: 8:00 PM EST
- Last Meeting: December 31st, 2012 — Clemson def. LSU 25-24
The number one offense will square off against the number one defense Monday night in New Orleans as the top-ranked Clemson defense will try and contain the top-ranked LSU offense. You’d be hard-pressed to find a team in any sport that has won two out of the last three championships as an underdog, but here we are. Still, it’s valid, as Clemson faces a different kind of animal in this LSU team led by Heisman winner Joe Burrow. Through 14 games this season, which includes their late December rout of Oklahoma, Burrow has thrown for 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. The last time we saw this LSU team take the field, LSU put on a display for the ages against a Sooner team that was thought to be able to at least compete. Despite tying the game up initially 7-7 in the first quarter, Oklahoma was unable to do much of anything from there, giving up seven touchdowns on the first seven drives of the game and ultimately getting run off the field before LSU let off the gas in the second half.
While LSU has a slight edge on offense, this Clemson offense can certainly hold its own with the best of them. To this point in the season, Clemson trails LSU by just seven yards per game in total offense — posting 548 yards per game — while putting 46.5 points up on the scoreboard each week. Led by one of the best quarterback/running back combos in all of college football in sophomore Trevor Lawrence and junior Travis Etienne, this Clemson offense won’t be scared to get in a shootout. While it’s hard to believe the two have improved since last season’s run to a national championship, there’s a reason this duo has yet to lose a game since first coming together 25 games ago. For Lawrence, a strong freshman campaign was followed up with a 3,172-yard and 34-touchdown season that once again has his team at the brink of an astounding three titles in four seasons and complete domination of the CFP era. At the running back position, Etienne improved in both rushing and receiving yards, including a monster semifinal performance where he scored three touchdowns.
Though this line is sitting at LSU -5.5 in most locations, I’ve seen the number get as high as -6.5 in some spots which I think further presents extreme recency bias by bettors that have been hammering LSU since this lined opened now more than 10 days ago. While I can fully appreciate LSU’s record-setting numbers and ability to make even the best SEC teams look pedestrian, they are getting a different beast with a Clemson team that has quite literally, “been there and done that.” Their defensive unit has been one of the best we have seen in college football over the past decade, and I have this game much closer to a field goal than a touchdown. I do think we continue to see -6 pop up at sportsbooks across the country as kickoff approaches, as the public won’t be able to contain themselves in getting one more bet down on this high-flying LSU team.