LSU and Clemson last faced off in the 2012 Chick-Fil-A Bowl and that game came down to No. 14 Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro knocking in a 37-yard field goal as time expired to upset the No. 8 team in the country. No. 3 Clemson Tigers, 14-0 and riding a 29 game win streak, also come into this year’s College Football Playoff national championship game as an underdog (+5.5) to No. 1 LSU Tigers and their Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow.
Clemson, after mounting a comeback to beat No. 2 Ohio State in the CFP semifinals, is seeking its second consecutive national championship and their third in four years, while LSU, who completely blew out Oklahoma in the CFP semis, looks to win its 4th national title in program history, which would be their first since 2008.
What to look out for:
Heading into Monday’s showdown, much talk has been about the quarterback battle between senior QB Joe Burrow and sophomore QB Trevor Lawrence. Burrow put the world on notice this year, leading the nation with 55 touchdown passes and throwing for 5,208 yards. The presumable No. 1 pick in April’s NFL Draft was the field general for an offense that lead the nation in scoring at 48.9 points per game.
On the other side, Trevor Lawrence, who has never tasted defeat as a collegiate football player, enters the game with less impressive numbers from a passing standpoint — 3,431 passing yards with 36 touchdown passes — but still the leader of an offense that puts up about 45 points per game, for fourth best in the FBS. Clemson, however, has racked up 3,446 yards on the ground in comparison to LSU’s 2, 337 yards.
The catalyst for Clemson’s offense has been running back Travis Etienne–as he goes, so does the Clemson offense. The junior rushed for 1,536 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also catching 32 passes for 396 yards. LSU’s offensive supporting cast features running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who led the tigers’ rushing attack with 1,304 yards and 16 touchdowns, and two stud receivers in Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson that have combined for about 3,000 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns.
A clash between two high octane offenses is going to be determined by which defense can get the most stops. Clemson, led by linebacker and Butkus Award winner Isaiah Simmons, brings in the FBS’s No. 1 scoring defense at 11.5 points allowed per game. LSU, who has truly been battle-tested having beaten six teams in the top 10 this year, and with an extremely talented secondary that features cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and safety Grant Delpit, ranked 29th in the country at 21.6 points allowed per game. Clemson has only faced one team in the top 10, which came against No. 2 Ohio State in the CFP semifinals. No. 12 Texas and No. 22 Virginia were Clemson’s other notable tests.
On top of their strength of schedule, LSU, to an extent, has a slight home-field advantage being that game will be played in New Orleans. LSU will be attempting to repeat history, being that their last two national championships were won in the Superdome (2004 and 2008).
When: Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans
Line: LSU -5.5