Clemson’s Top Offense Squares Off Against LSU’s Top Offense
The 2020 CFP National Championship Game is upon us. The Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers will battle at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Something will have to give with LSU’s top scoring offense against Clemson’s top ranked defense.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: LSU -5.0; O/U: 66
Clemson has the experience on the big stage. They are playing in the national championship game for the fourth time in five years. This year they didn’t receive respect and they are only the No. 3 seed. Quite a blow to the defending national champion and they will play the underdog role to top-ranked LSU in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
LSU has undeniably been college football’s best team this season on a week in and week out basis. That claim was punctuated by the Tigers’ 63-28 rout of No. 4 Oklahoma in the semifinals. The No. 1 seed 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. Clemson’s two titles in the past three years came as the No. 2 seed.
The adage that defense wins championships hasn’t held up well in the College Football Playoff era.as even the defensive heavy SEC has moved to high powered offenses. It isn’t likely to make a comeback this year. LSU boasts the most explosive offense in the nation with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow. The Gun Slinger has 5,208 passing yards, 55 touchdowns, and only six interceptions leading the way.
Clemson ranks third in the nation in total offense and had out-gained 28 consecutive opponents before being out-gained by 99 yards in a 29-23 semifinal victory over Ohio State. The winning score in the national championship game has been 35 points or higher in four of the past five years. That trend should hold as LSU averages 48.9 points and Clemson puts up 45.3 per game.
With the potential for a shootout it might not take many defensive stops to make all the difference in the world. Which Tigers have the defense that is up to the task? Clemson appears to have a slight edge on that side of the ball. They rank second in total defense and leading the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 11.5 points per game. Clemson’s secondary was the best in the nation as well. Clemson hasn’t faced an offense quite like LSU’s pass-happy attack. It is an attack that averages 397.2 passing yards and faces the No. 1 pass defense that allowed 151.5 yards.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
Clemson is 14-0 coming into the CFP National Championship Game. For all the talk of LSU’s offensive prowess, Clemson’s offense is nearly as dangerous with quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Sophomore has amassed 3,431 passing yards, 36 touchdowns, and only threw eight interceptions. Running back Travis Etienne has 1,932 scrimmage yards and 22 combined rushing and receiving TD’s to lead the way.
Etienne has 3,960 career rushing yards, which is six shy of Raymond Priester’s school record. He was a bigger factor in the passing game against Ohio State as he caught three passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Clemson’s best shot at slowing down LSU might be its strong pass rush. The defense has collected 42 sacks and another 94 quarterback pressures.
LSU is also 14-0 coming into the CFP National Championship Game. The Tigers won back-to-back close games against Auburn on Oct. 26 and at Alabama (46-41) on Nov. 9th. They’ve steamrolled everyone in their path since, going 25 consecutive quarters without trailing. LSU’s offense has put up video-game numbers and is the first team in history with a 5,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher (Clyde Edwards-Helaire 1,304), and two 1,000-yard receivers (Ja’Marr Chase 1,559; Justin Jefferson 1,434). If the Tigers have a weakness it’s on defense. The secondary’s mediocre statistics (221.9 passing yards allowed per game) are somewhat skewed by the fact that LSU played with a big lead for much of the season.
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The Dart Throw: Clemson 38, LSU 34
2020 CFP National Championship Game Trends
- Trend Under is 5-2 in Tigers last 7 neutral site games as a favorite. Hit % 71.40% (7) O/U 2|5 Push 0 W/L
- Under is 5-1 in Tigers last 6 games as a favorite of 0.5-3.0. 83.30% (6) 1|5 0
- Under is 21-8 in Tigers last 29 games as an underdog of 3.5-10.0. 72.40% (29) 8|21 0
- Over is 5-2 in Tigers last 7 games as an underdog of 0.5-3.0. 71.40% (7) 5|2 0
- Trend Under is 4-1 in Tigers last 5 neutral site games as a favorite. Hit % 80.00% (5) O/U 2|5 Push 0 W/L
- Under is 4-1 in Tigers last 5 games as a favorite of 0.5-3.0. 80.00% (5) 1|5 0
- Under is 4-1 in Tigers last 5 neutral site games as a favorite of 10.5 or greater. 80.00% (5) 1|4 0
- Under is 7-2 in Tigers last 9 bowl games as a favorite. 77.80% (9) 2|7 0