Jan 13, 2020

Tigers vs. Tigers for the national championship

Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Both teams in tonight's college football national championship (8pm ET, ESPN) are from the South, they're both undefeated, they share the same mascot (Tigers) and stadium name (Death Valley), and their QBs are both projected No. 1 picks.

The state of play: Only LSU has a Heisman Trophy winner leading one of the most dangerous offenses in college football history. And only Clemson has the defensive firepower and championship game experience necessary to stop it.

What to watch: The game is truly a matchup of strength vs. strength.

  • LSU offense: Ranked first nationally in points scored (48.9 per game) and yards gained (564.1 per game).
  • Clemson defense: Ranked first nationally in points surrendered (10.6 per game) and yards allowed (244.7 per game).

By the numbers:

  • 70%: Joe Burrow completed at least 70% of his passes in every game this season, while Clemson hasn't allowed an opposing QB to complete more than 70% of passes in a game since 2012 (108-game streak).
  • 787 days: Trevor Lawrence hasn't lost a game since high school (Nov. 17, 2017). The coach that beat him that day, John Thompson, was Ed Orgeron's college coach at Northwestern State and later served as his defensive coordinator at Ole Miss, per The Athletic (subscription).
  • 15 ways to watch: This year's ESPN MegaCast will feature 15 presentations (nine on TV, six on the ESPN app). They include Refcast, which lets viewers watch alongside former refs, and All-22, an above-field camera that ensures all 22 players can be seen at all times.

For the bettors: LSU opened as a 3.5-point favorite following the semifinals, but after nearly 90% of early bets came in on the Tigers, the line moved all the way to 6.5, then back down to 5.5 as of this morning.

  • Line: LSU -5.5
  • O/U: 68

Worth noting: Under the College Football Playoff system, underdogs are 5-0 against the spread in national title games.

  • 2015: Ohio State was a 6.5-point underdog against Oregon and won by 22.
  • 2016: Clemson was a 6.5-point underdog against Alabama and only lost by five.
  • 2017: Clemson was once again a 6.5-point underdog against Alabama and won by four.
  • 2018: Georgia was a 3.5-point underdog against Alabama and only lost by three.
  • 2019: Clemson was a 5.5-point underdog against Alabama and won by 28.

Flashback: Ohio State tops the first CFP rankings

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