1H Under 34 (2u)
Under 67 (1u)
Buy Price good through +4, Under 65.5
Clemson +6 over LSU
LSU has definitely been the most dominant team in the nation all year but this line is without a doubt a massive overinflation due to recency bias. The look ahead line on this matchup was a Pick’em which is much closer to what I have it at, Clemson -1. Everyone remembers LSU blowing out Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and then of course Joe Burrow utterly decimating the Oklahoma defense with seven first half touchdowns in a game that was a blowout by halftime. But let’s be real, Oklahoma was a total fraud and wasn’t the fourth best team in the nation. Both Ohio State and Clemson would have blown them out by a similar margin, so having the line move 5-6 points based on that performance is just a total overreaction. I am not trying to take anything away from LSU’s impressive beat down of Oklahoma as it was one of the most dominant wins in Playoff history, but it just wasn’t even close to a fair fight. The Sooners had no defensive answer for LSU’s passing attack and they made zero defensive adjustments as the game went on. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was in his first year on the job, and it showed, multiple times this season — not just in the LSU game. There is no comparison between the Oklahoma defense and the Clemson defense and the coaching staff isn’t even in the same stratosphere. In the 13 games Clemson played this year, they allowed 20 or fewer points all regular season before allowing the #3 ranked Ohio State offense to score a paltry 23 points in the semifinal game, nothing to be ashamed of there. Clemson’s Brent Venables is the second highest paid assistant coach in college football for a reason. He is a true scheming genius who coordinates pressure that would confuse even the best NFL offensive lines. Yes, Clemson lost all four defensive linemen from last year’s championship team, but even so, they had the #1 recruiting class in the nation and were still the #2 ranked defense this season and were statistically better than last year’s historic defense. Joe Burrow won’t have wide open receivers and all day to throw to them like he had against the Sooners, he is not going to be nearly as comfortable in the pocket tonight as some might think. The last time he saw a defense close to this caliber was against Auburn, a game that LSU won by 3 points and Burrow had a 1/1 TD to INT ratio. Burrow is certainly a generational talent, but he is the second best QB in this game and is far from unstoppable against an elite defense, something that Clemson certainly qualifies as.
There is no arguing that this Clemson team has Championship mettle and poise. We are talking about a team who is led by the best QB in the nation in Trevor Lawrence, a guy who is an unbelievable 25-0 as a starting quarterback. While Burrow has deservedly been getting all of the love from the media, it goes a little unnoticed that Trevor Lawrence has been close to just as impressive with a 22-0 TD-INT ratio since late October. Dabo Swinney is a master motivator and an ATS legend in bowl games with a 9-2 & 10-1 ATS record, and that was with Clemson being an underdog in 9 of those 11 games. Clemson brings back all four starting offensive lineman from last year’s championship team, and they are loaded with big time play makers at RB and WR, all in all 10 of 11 offensive starters from last year’s team are playing in this game, a group who is a perfect 29-0 in their last 29 games. When Clemson had a star quarterback playing, they have NEVER been blown out in a big game. Kelly Bryant (who was terrible) lost by 18 points against Alabama (Swinney’s only non-cover) but every other Clemson game where Deshaun Watson or Trevor Lawrence played, they have never lost big. Deshaun Watson lost (but covered) against Alabama in the first showdown, then he got his revenge, and obviously last year Trevor Lawrence led the blowout win over Alabama.
I was wrong a few weeks ago in believing that Ohio State was the best team in the nation, that title belongs to Clemson until someone knocks them off, and until they do, I simply cannot bet against this team, especially when they are catching inflated points. Historically teams coming off a blowout win in the semifinals have not had great ATS success in the Championship game, much of that again is due to a total overreaction to one singular game which provides value on the other side. Back in 2015, Oregon destroyed Florida State only to lose to Alabama in the Championship. In 2016, Alabama shut out Michigan State then failed to cover against Clemson in the Championship. The same was the case in 2017 when Bama failed to cover against Georgia after their blowout over Clemson. I am not a big fan of trends, but it just goes to show that even though LSU seems like an unstoppable force after their past few games, those blowout wins need to be taken in context and mean nothing to this game outside of an inflated point spread which we can take advantage of.
It certainly takes balls to bet against this LSU team who is playing a pseudo home game, but no one has played the disrespect card better than Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers and I don’t see that changing tonight. This is going to be a fantastic game but the Clemson offensive line has been stellar all season and will prevent LSU’s loaded front seven from getting into the backfield and disrupting Lawrence’s rhythm, a must if they have any hope to win this game. I see this playing out very similar to the Fiesta Bowl, both defenses will be better than expected, the Under will hit and Clemson will win its third national championship in four seasons. Go (Clemson) Tigers.