The 2019/2020 college football season comes to a potentially classic conclusion, as the LSU Tigers and Clemson Tigers face off in New Orleans to decide not only which team is most deserving of the “Tigers” nickname — but more importantly, the national championship. The matchup features arguably the nation’s two top college quarterbacks — Joe Burrow of LSU, and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson. While Burrow won this season’s Heisman Trophy, Lawrence has never been on the losing side of a game in 25 starts as a college quarterback, according to Newsweek.
But even before Lawrence took over the signal-caller’s role for the Clemson Tigers, the school has been nearly impossible to beat. Their last loss came almost exactly two years ago, when they bowed out to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal in January of 2018. But Clemson got their revenge, defeating Alabama to win last season’s national title, with Lawrence as the quarterback.
If the 20-year-old phenomenon can lead his team to a win over LSU, not only will Clemson take home a second consecutive national championship, but the Tigers will be the first team in college gridiron history to put together back-to-back seasons with 15-0 records.
Oddsmakers, however, are not bullish on Clemson’s ability to pull off the feat. They enter the national title game as underdogs for the second straight year. In fact, the two championship games are the only two in which Clemson have been underdogs over the past two seasons.
Despite Lawrence’s unblemished record and the Tigers’ seeming invincibility, LSU has been installed as the favorite in the game, by 5-and-a-half points, according to odds published by USA Today.
A panel of ESPN experts offers their insights into the LSU vs. Clemson national championship game, in the video below.
The two teams got to the championship game via very different routes. Playing Oklahoma in the first playoff semifinal, LSU rolled to 63-28 pasting of the Sooners. Number 3 Clemson took on second-ranked Ohio State and needed to climb back from a 16-point deficit to scrape out a 29-23 victory.
Lawrence threw for 259 yards and rushed for 107 — 67 coming on a single touchdown dash — against Ohio State, accordion to NCAA.com stats.
But Burrow’s outing against Oklahoma was eye-popping, with 493 yards in the air, including seven touchdown passes. The 23-year-old quarterback has two of the country’s most dangerous weapons in wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, who each hauled in 18 touchdown passes during the season.
The meeting will be only the fourth all-time between the two Tigers teams and the first since 2012 when Clemson took a 25-24 win in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl. The previous two matchups, both won by LSU, came in bowl games back in 1996 and 1958.
The College Football national championship game kicks off at 7 p.m. CST at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Monday, January 13 — 8 p.m. EST, 5 p.m. PST — and will be televised nationally by ESPN, with online streaming via the network’s digital ESPN.com platform and ESPN app.