Overview: Legions of millennial college football fans remember the 2006 Rose Bowl as the era-defining game, and this National Championship game has the potential to do so for the next generation. While Ohio State was more well-rounded, LSU has come into form at the right time and is more dynamic than the Buckeyes.
The story of the year has been the sensational coaching of Joe Brady and Steve Ensminger that has enabled the talented Burrow to have arguably the best single season ever for a college quarterback. WRs Chase and Jefferson have racked up over 1400 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns individually, while three other players have at least 40 receptions and 399 yards. Burrow’s statistical accumulation is second-to-none: a 77% completion percentage, 10.9 yards per attempt (Lawrence has 9.6 for reference), and 59 total scores.
LSU’s defense is not as good as Ohio State’s, but it has peaked at the right time. Players returning from injury and adjustments have allowed the opposing Tigers to allow just 45 points combined in their last three games (two against top five opponents).
Talent: This game is foremost a duel between Burrow (the frontrunner 2020 1st overall pick) and Lawrence (the presumptive 2021 1st overall pick) – two likely franchise quarterbacks for the next decade. Other top draft-eligible prospects include CB Kristan Fulton (14 per TDN), S Grant Deplit (16), Edge K’Lavon Chaisson (21), WR Justin Jefferson (48), RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (68), and IDL Rashard Lawrence (91). Outside of the draft-eligible list, First-Team-SEC standouts include WR Ja’Marr Chase, true freshman CB Derek Stingley, and center Lloyd Chushenberry.
Oddshark: LSU is favored by 5.5 points, and 56% of bets are in favor of LSU. The over/under is 69.5 points, and both sides are at 50%. The projected score is Clemson 45.9 LSU 42.8, in sharp contrast to the general public’s perception that LSU will win heavily.
William’s Take: Both teams are the two most impressive in the country and have a flair of ‘destiny’ on their side. It’s a coin-flip game that is the most anticipated game of the (last) decade. My gut reaction since the Fiesta Bowl has been that Clemson will pull off the victory in a barn-burner. Prediction: Clemson 56 LSU 52