2020 College Football Playoff National Championship Betting Preview: Clemson Tigers vs. LSU Tigers – Jan. 13, 2020

by Mark Daloisio | January 6, 2020 |

It all comes down to just one game when the 3rd ranked Clemson Tigers (14-0, 0-0 away) travel to Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana to take on the 1st ranked LSU Tigers (14-0, 0-0 home) to determine who is going to the National Champion in college football this season. 

These two clubs along with #2 Ohio State and #4Oklahoma were chosen to play in the four-team playoffs this season. Clemson upset Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl while LSU pounded Oklahoma 63-28 in the Peach to earn the right to play each other in the College Football Championship Game. 

These two last played each other way back in December of 2012 at LSU and Clemson as 6½ point underdogs upset LSU 25-24.

Clemson Tigers Betting Preview 

Clemson (14-0) once again ran away with the ACC’s Atlantic Division with an 8-0 record by 3 games over 2nd place Louisville.  They followed that up with a convincing 62-17 win vs 23rd ranked Virginia who won the Coastal Divison in the ACC Championship Game. 

They moved on to the Fiesta Bowl beating 2nd ranked Ohio State 29-23. The Clemson Tigers are 14-0 SU and 11-3 ATS this season. They were 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in neutral site games this season.  The O/U has gone 6-8 and 3-1 on neutral fields this season.   

Clemson is coming off a 29-23 win vs 2nd ranked Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl back on December 28th.  Many people considered this an upset even though Clemson was a 2½ point favorite despite being ranked 3rd at the time vs the 2nd ranked team in the country. 

Clemson despite winning 2 of the last 3 college football championships was considered the weakest of the four teams in the playoffs coming from the weak ACC Conference.  I think what has fueled Clemson the past month of the season was the lack of respect they have been given.  

So many experts appeared to be right after Clemson fell behind 16-0 vs the Buckeyes midway through the 2nd quarter.  Travis Etienne scored from 8- yards out with 2:45 left in the half and Clemson held Ohio State to three and out in the next series getting the ball back with under two minutes to play. 

Five plays later QB Trevor Lawrence scrambled and took the ball 67 yards for a touchdown cutting the deficit to just two points at 16-14 at the half.  

The Clemson defense continued playing well after giving up those 16 points and did not allow any points in the 3rd quarter forcing two punts and intercepting a pass at their 33-yard line, while QB Lawrence connected with Travis Etienne on a 53-yard scoring strike giving Clemson it’s first lead of the game at 21-16 heading into the final quarter. 

Ohio St fought back with a 13 play, 84-yard drive culminated with a Justin Fields touchdown pass retaking the lead 23-21 with still most of the quarter left to play. It was really looking like the Bucks defense figured out the Clemson offense until with just 1:49 left in the game the combination of Lawrence to Etienne for the second time connected again this time for 34 yards and after the two-point conversion took the lead at 29-23. 

On the next possession, OSU again drove the ball down to the Clemson 23 yard line and again the Clemson secondary came up big with its second interception of the game, this time in the endzone essentially ending the game as Clemson hung on for the 29-23 win and now have another shot at the national championship.  

QB Trevor Lawrence threw for 3,431 yards with 36 touchdowns and 8 interceptions this season completing 67.6% of his passes.  He was also 3rd in rushing with 514 yards on 93 carries with 8 touchdowns. Travis Etienne led the rushing attack with 1,536 yards on 192 carries with 18 touchdowns. 

WR Tee Higgens led all receivers with 56 catches for 1,115 yards and 13 touchdowns. WR Justyn Ross helped take some of the pressure off Higgens adding 789 yards on 61 carries with 8 touchdowns for the Tigers.  The number one ranked secondary in the country picked off 19 passes led by S Tanner Muse with 4.  

Clemson is scoring 45.3 ppg while racking up 538 total yards.  They are giving up 10.6 points per game and only 247 total yards.  That offensive output has them ranked 4th in the country in points scored per game.  They are 19th in passing and 11th in rushing yards per game.

They are also ranked 4th in the most yards per play this season.  On the other side of the ball, the defense comes in ranked 1st in points allowed per game.

They are 1st against the pass, so if you want to get to them it will be against their 14th ranked rush defense.  They are also 2nd in the country in fewest yards per play allowed this season. 

LSU Tigers Betting Preview 

LSU (14-0) won the SEC West Conference with an 8-0 record this season beating out 2nd place Alabama by two games and 3rd place Auburn by three games.  They then met East Division Champion and 4th ranked Georgia and took care of the Bulldogs 37-10 in the SEC Championship Game.

Up next was 4th ranked Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl in the semi-finals.  They dismantled the Sooners 63-28 moving on to the finals vs Clemson. The LSU Tigers are 14-0 SU and 9-3-2 ATS this season. In neutral site games, they were 3-0 SU and ATS this season. The O/U has gone 9-5 this season while going 2-1 in those neutral site games.  

LSU is coming off a 63-28 thumping of 4th ranked Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl back on December 28th.  LSU was a large 12½ point favorite and easily covered the spread. I think they have proven they are the team to beat after their past two impressive wins leading up to this game. 

Some think the big win over Oklahoma is no big deal and the Sooners did not belong in the final four. They certainly did not have the defense it takes to slow down LSU. Clemson will present much more of a challenge.

For a playoff game, it was not much of a game at all.  After both teams exchanged touchdowns in the first half of the 1st quarter, QB Joe Burrow threw touchdowns, 2,3,4 & 5 of the game with still 9:17 left to play in the 2nd quarter giving the Tigers a 35-7 lead over the Sooners.  

WR Justin Jefferson was the recipient of four of those TD passes. Jalen Hurt cut into the lead with a 2-yard TD, but 27 seconds later Burrow threw his 6th TD pass of the game, this time to Thaddeus Moss for 62 yards. They were not done yet. 

Terrace Marshall Jr who caught Burrow’s other TD pass, caught his second on a short 2-yard touchdown as the lead grew to 49-14 at the half. Burrow throwing seven touchdowns passes in the first half just leaves you speechless.  

Things finally simmered down in the second half.  Burrow decided he threw enough TD passes in the game and ran one in from 2 yards out early in the 3rd quarter making it 56-14 Tigers. 

The Sooners scored their only points of the 3rd quarter on a Hurts 12-yard TD run and the quarter ended at 56-21. With 9:39 left to play in the game, the Sooners scored again on the ground making it 58-26 LSU.  I am sure the LSU defense was not as aggressive with the big lead.

With Burrow out of the game now, they still tacked on one more touchdown on a John Emery short run making the final 63-28.  

It was complete dominance with LSU doubling the Sooners in first-downs 32-16 and more than doubling them in total yards 692-322.  Remarkably with that many points, there was only one turnover in the game and it was by the Sooners. Surprisingly LSU only had the ball 6 more minutes than Oklahoma.  

Heisman winner QB Joe Burrow threw for 5,208 yards this season with a mindblowing 55 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions completing 77.6% of his passes.  You have to wonder how anybody is going to stop him.

With that much dominance in the passing game, the rushing game was only 60th in yards per game this year, but RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire still topped the century mark with 1,304 yards on 199 carries with 16 touchdowns.  By the way, Burrow was the 2nd leading rusher on the team with 310 yards on 101 carries with 4 touchdowns.

They have two great wide receivers in Ja’Marr Chase who led the team with 1,559 yards on just 75 catches with 18 touchdowns averaging nearly 21 yards per catch. Justin Jefferson was right behind him with 1,434 yards on 102 catches with 18 touchdowns as well. 

They are so deep that even their 3rd best WR caught 12 touchdown passes. They did not need a dominating defense with an offense like that and that is a good thing since they are decent, but not great.  

LSU is scoring 48.9 ppg and averaging 538 total yards this season.  They are giving up 21.2 points per game while allowing just 245 yards per game.  That offensive output has them ranked 1st in the nation in points scored per game. 

Heisman winner Joe Burrow has led them to the 2nd ranked passing offense in yards per game as well as 2nd in yards per play this season.  The running game is nowhere near as strong coming in at just 60th in yards per game.

The defense is ranked just 29th in points allowed per game.  They are decent but they can be scored upon for a team trying to win the national championship. They are 20th against the run and only 56th vs the pass this season. 

Clemson vs LSU Betting Lines

BetOnline has set this line at LSU -5½ with an over/under of 69½ points.  The line opened at LSU -5½.   

Free Betting Pick

This could be an epic championship game.  An amazing offense that looks unstoppable vs the best defense in the country.  This is what will decide the championship. In big games, it is usually the team with the better defense that comes through, but this LSU offense is something special. 

The advantage in the game might be with Clemson who has a pretty good offense of their own against an LSU defense that seems to do just what it needs to do. They can be had through the air as they are ranked just 56th in passing yards allowed per game. 

So the question remains can QB Trevor Lawrence take advantage of that. Clemson relies more on the run game, they are a run-first, pass second offense.  

Then you have to throw in it is the weak ACC vs the always tough SEC.  Big advantage LSU, but that has not stopped Clemson from winning two titles in the past three years.  It scares me to death to go against Joe Burrow and the LSU offense, but that is what I am going to do. 

Ever since Clemson snuck by North Carolina earlier this season, the press and public really jumped off the Clemson bandwagon.  Clemson feels they are not getting any respect at all and has been playing with a chip on their shoulder.

I am taking the team who is disrespected and plays great defense.  Another way to look at this one, we all know the bookmakers a very good at what they do, right? If this is an unstoppable offense vs a team from a weak conference, why is this line only 5½? 

This might be the scariest bet I make all season but it might be the smartest bet I make all season. I will take the 5½ but may wait closer to game time. I feel for sure the public may drive this line higher.  Don’t be shocked if Clemson shocks the college football world and wins their 3rd championship in 4 years.  

Spooky Express Free Pick: Clemson +5½ 

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