Clemson (14-0) vs LSU (14-0)
When: Monday, January 13th 2020
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome,
New Orleans, LA
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: LSU -3/68.5
The wait is over for one of the most anticipated National Championship Games in recent memory as the Clemson Tigers battle the LSU Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night. This matchup will showcase the top-scoring offense in college football in SEC champion LSU and the No. 1 scoring defense in ACC champion Clemson. The experience on the big stage would have to go to Clemson, who are playing in the national championship game for the fourth time in five years, but the No. 3 seed and defending national champion will play the underdog. LSU opened as a 3-point favorite, but has seen most of the money after their romp over Oklahoma in the semifinals. LSU is up to a 6-point favorite at most books, but has not won the national title in the first five years of the College Football Playoff. Top seeds have twice bowed out in the semifinals and are 0-3 in the title game, and Clemson’s two titles in the past three years came as the No. 2 seed. The difference could be when the Clemson offense has the ball. It ranks fourth nationally in scoring at 45.3 ppg, while LSU has been a little leaky at times on defense, allowing 38 points to both Texas and Vanderbilt and 41 to Alabama.
These schools last played in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve 2012 with No. 14 Clemson upsetting No. 8 LSU 25-24 on a 37-yard field goal as time expired. That was really the start of this Clemson dynasty under Coach Dabo Swinney for Clemson. This is the first time since last year’s title game that Clemson is a betting underdog and are a solid 8-2 ATS in its past 10 as a dog. Clemson is 9-1 straight up in its past 10 games against SEC schools and beat two in the regular season in South Carolina (38-3) and Texas A&M (24-10). LSU didn’t play South Carolina this season but beat A&M handily 50-7. LSU is 9-1 SU & 6-4 ATS in its past 10 vs. the ACC, last playing a team from the conference to open the 2018 season and easily beating Miami FL.
Clemson appears to have a slight edge on defense, ranking second in total defense (264.1) and leading the nation in scoring defense, allowing 11.5 points per game. Clemson’s secondary was the best in the nation, but the Tigers haven’t faced an offense quite like LSU, which averages 397.2 passing yards and faces the No. 1 pass defense that allowed 151.5 yards. Clemson is in its fourth national championship game in the College Football Playoff era and is 2-1 while looking to become the first school to repeat. It upset No. 1 Alabama 44-16 last year. The Tigers are on a national-best 29-game winning streak and most have been by double-digits, but No. 2 Ohio State gave Clemson all it could handle in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal on Dec. 28 before the Tigers prevailed 29-23. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence led the game-winning 94-yard drive in the fourth quarter, hitting tailback Travis Etienne on the 34-yard go-ahead touchdown with 1:49 left. Lawrence has thrown for 3,431 yards, 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while Etienne (1,932 scrimmage yards, 22 combined rushing and receiving TDs) leads the 11th-best rushing attack in the country. Etienne caught three passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the semifinals.
This will be the last NCAA game for quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, who has had arguably the best season by an FBS quarterback ever. I’m sure the Cincinnati Bengals are hoping he comes out of this game healthy, as they have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Burrow threw seven first-half touchdown passes and ran for another score in the second half in the semifinals versus teh Sooners. The seven TD throws tied for the most in any bowl game ever and were single-game records for LSU and by any SEC quarterback. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson caught 14 passes for 227 yards and four scores. The Tigers won back-to-back close games against Auburn on Oct. 26 and at Alabama (46-41) on Nov. 9, and they’ve rolled everyone since, going 25 consecutive quarters without trailing. They also posses a 1,000-yard rusher in Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1,304), and two 1,000-yard receivers (Ja’Marr Chase 1,559; Jefferson 1,434). The pass defense ranks 55th in the country at 221.9 yards a game, but surrender just 21.6 points.
I expect this to be a great battle with two offenses who can light up the scoreboard. I would definitely lean towards the Over if you like playing totals, but my official play will be Clemson and the points. This team continues to be overlooked and they just keep winning games – 29 in a row in fact. Both teams are well coached, but the edge goes to Dabo Swinney, who has been here and done that. Clemson is 10-1 ATS in its past 11 bowl games and I definitely think they can win this game. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables will have this Clemson team ready for the LSU offense.
Pick: Clemson +6 (Jay Cooper’s Free Bowl Picks)
Clemson is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games on fieldturf.
Clemson is 10-1 ATS in their last 11 bowl games.
Clemson is 9-1 ATS in their last 10 bowl games as an underdog.
Clemson is 9-1 ATS in their last 10 neutral site games as an underdog.
Clemson is 7-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Clemson is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Monday games.
Clemson is 17-4 ATS in their last 21 neutral site games.
Clemson is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Clemson is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in January.
Clemson is 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
Clemson is 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
Clemson is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
Clemson is 37-18 ATS in their last 55 games following a straight up win.
Clemson is 37-18 ATS in their last 55 games as an underdog.
Clemson is 39-19 ATS in their last 58 games following a ATS win.
LSU is 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
LSU is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 neutral site games.
LSU is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
LSU is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games as a favorite.
LSU is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
LSU is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Bowl games as a favorite.
LSU is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games.
LSU is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games on fieldturf.
LSU is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
LSU is 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
LSU is 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
LSU is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Monday games.
LSU is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
Under is 4-0 in Clemson’s last 4 games on fieldturf.
Under is 5-1-1 in Clemson’s last 7 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 5-1 in Clemson’s last 6 games in January.
Under is 5-2 in Clemson’s last 7 neutral site games.
Under is 13-6 in Clemson’s last 19 bowl games.
Under is 3-0-1 in LSU’s last 4 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
Over is 6-1-1 in LSU’s last 8 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
Over is 6-1-1 in LSU’s last 8 non-conference games.
Under is 5-2 in LSU’s last 7 neutral site games as a favorite.
Over is 12-5 in LSU’s last 17 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 9-4 in LSU’s last 13 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
Over is 11-5-1 in LSU’s last 17 games overall.