Heavyweights collide tonight in the 2020 College Football National Championship Game as the third-seeded Clemson Tigers aim to knock off the top-seeded LSU Tigers as both teams enter the final game of the season defending their perfect record.
In one corner stands an undefeated team, in their home state, with a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback leading the charge. In the other corner is a group of men with an underdog mentality that are chasing their third national championship in four seasons to submit their dynasty into the record books.
Tigers vs Tigers. Burrow vs Lawrence. Dabo vs Orgeron.
LSU is a 5.5-point favorite, but Clemson has a 55.8 percent chance to win according to ESPN. There’s no surprise that these two teams are both the favorite in different predictive methods.
LSU has run through the SEC this year like how Dany Targaryen and her dragons ran through Westeros: dominantly. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and Georgia all presented challenges, but the Tigers were able to claim the victory in each due to the play of quarterback Joe Burrow. Meanwhile, while LSU was running the SEC gauntlet, Clemson was just doing business as usual, racking up wins in what is currently a 29-game win streak.
Burrow won the Heisman trophy on Dec. 15 and has only played one game since. In that game though, Burrow went 29/39 for 493 yards and 7 touchdowns against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl to prove that the Heisman Trophy was one by the right guy.
On the other hand, Clemson boasts a signal-caller themselves that isn’t so far behind Burrow in terms of all-around great college quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence, aka Thor by my standards, will be leading Clemson into back to back national championship games, winning his first, last year, as a freshman defeating Alabama 44-16.
In reality, we are likely seeing the best quarterback matchup in a college football championship game in history. Recent history has squared up Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow, Vince Young and Matt Leinart, and countless other great matchups. But none of those compare to Burrow and Lawrence. Both quarterbacks are expected to be drafted first overall in their respective Drafts and have promising NFL futures ahead of them. These two players and the heart and soul of their teams, and this game will be won or lost by both of them first and foremost.
Burrow has thrown for 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. Absolutely astronomical numbers to say the least. On the flip side, Lawrence still had a great year with 3,431 yards, 36 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, but even those numbers look pedestrian when they are compared with Burrow’s.
While the offenses in this game will feature superstar players such as Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, Travis Etienne, Justin Jefferson, and Amari Rogers, the key to this game will be both Tiger defenses trying to figure out how to slow down the opposing offense.
Clemson will bring in the second-ranked defense in the country, holding opponents to only 264.1 yards per game. In theory, Clemson has all the firepower they need to combat Burrow’s electric offense. The Clemson defense is only allowing 151.5 yards through the air each game, which should bring a sort of quiet confidence when the purple and orange step onto the field Monday night. Clemson will have to add in surprising looks and unconventional blitzes in hopes of just trying to confuse Burrow, but both defenses will likely just have a “bend but don’t break” mentality against these offenses.
LSU has been having a special season and that is not a secret to anyone. The final X-factor in tonight’s game revolves simply around the location. And winning a national championship in your own backyard, New Orleans, would be the ultimate exclamation point on LSU’s special season.
In what has been an exceptionally great college football season with twists and turns around every corner, this championship game should be a fitting finale to it all. Burrow against Lawrence, Dabo Swinney against Ed Orgeron, Tigers vs Tigers…and it all comes down to one final game to prove who is the best.
The 2020 National Championship game between LSU and Clemson will be broadcast on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Here are game predictions from our Fanrun Radio staff: