5 reasons LSU wins the national championship
It has all the makings of an epic showdown.
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Clemson.
Undefeated champion of the SEC vs. undefeated champion of the ACC.
The most talked-about team of the season vs. the most successful program of the past 4 seasons.
A Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback vs. an undefeated quarterback.
It’s the CFP Championship Game on Monday night in the Mercedes-Bez Superdome.
One set of Tigers will win. Another set of Tigers will lose.
Here are 5 reasons LSU wins the national championship:
1. Just another top 10 opponent
Clemson is the best team LSU faced. LSU is the best team Clemson has faced.
But Clemson has faced one other top 5 team – No. 3 Ohio State. It fell behind 16-0 before scrambling back to win 29-23 and get here.
LSU has faced 6 other top 10 teams. Beat them all. Beat the past two by a combined score of 100-38.
Dabo Swinney is right – you can’t do any better than beat every team on your schedule. Playing a weaker schedule doesn’t mean you aren’t the stronger team.
But nearly half of LSU’s schedule has been against top 10 teams. It has been tested, challenged and strengthened along the way.
Clemson stepped up in class against Ohio State and barely escaped.
It’s stepping up again.
2. Too many weapons
Clemson has a very good defense.
LSU doesn’t just have a 5,000-yard passer.
It has 2 1,000-yard receivers. One is the winner of the Biletnikoff Award (Ja’Marr Chase). The other is peeved that he didn’t win any major awards so he went out and caught 14 passes, including 4 touchdowns, in the CFP semifinal (Justin Jefferson). Both have 18 TD catches, tied for the SEC single-season record.
LSU also has a 1,000-yard rusher who’s a really good receiver and was hardly needed in the semifinal, so his injured hamstring should be much healthier by Monday night. That’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Oh, and Terrace Marshall Jr. is a really good receiver too and Thaddeus Moss is having the most productive season ever by an LSU tight end.
If Clemson’s defense can cover all that, it’s more than very good.
3. And now the LSU defense is really good too
For much of the season, potential LSU postseason opponents could rightly think they might be able to exploit the Tigers’ inconsistent defense enough to have a chance to win.
But the inconsistent defense has become consistent – consistently good. It’s healthy, it’s peaking, it’s focused.
K’Lavon Chaisson is bringing the consistent pass rush that was lacking earlier. Now Michael Divinity Jr. is back. They’re both really good pass rushers.
Divinity can play inside and outside linebacker, giving coordinator Dave Aranda the biggest variety of packages he has had all season to adapt to any down and distance.
And Grant Delpit is back to being Grant Delpit. And Derek Stingley is looking kind of Honey Badger-ish.
Clemson will make some plays and score some points. But this defense isn’t being exploited anymore.
4. Home not far away from home
The Superdome is about 90 miles from Tiger Stadium.
Sure Clemson will have a bunch of fans there. LSU will have more.
Clemson flew in Friday afternoon. LSU bussed in later that day.
Clemson will practice at Tulane University, a satisfactory college facility, but nothing like Clemson’ state-of-the-art complex.
LSU will practice at the New Orleans Saints facility.
Ed Orgeron worked there in 2008. Joe Brady worked there the past 2 seasons. Special teams coordinator Greg McMahon and defensive line coach Bill Johnson worked there too.
LSU will feel right at home.
It won’t make the difference, but it’ll help.
5. Have you seen this Joe Burrow kid?
Trevor Lawrence is a really good quarterback. Probably doesn’t get enough credit for leading Clemson to a national championship as a true freshman last season or for being 25-0 as a starter in college.
Joe Burrow is better. Maybe not by all that much, but enough to make a difference in this game.
Every time LSU has been challenged within a game or going into a game, Burrow has done enough to overcome that challenge – often in historic fashion.
He has had as good a season as any college football player has ever had. Maybe the best ever.
He plays the most important position on the field.
Everything he has done the past 4 months has been building toward this moment.
Last month he held up the Heisman Trophy after winning by a record margin.
Late Monday night, he’ll lift up the golden trophy.