National Championship Game: Bold Predictions for LSU-Clemson From SI Experts

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The time is finally here. On Monday night, LSU and Clemson will square off for the national championship, with one school completing a perfect 15-0 season and winning its fourth national title and the other coming up agonizingly short. Who will the confetti fall on? We already made our score predictions; now, it's time to think bold.


Ross Dellenger: Clemson Keeps It Close

Gasp! That doesn't seem so bold—that a program that has won two of the last three national championships would play well enough in yet another championship game. But maybe it is. LSU is a touchdown favorite, and plenty are the bayou Tigers bandwagon after they've virtually steamrolled everyone over the last two months (they've won their last five games by at least 21 points). But don't look past the upstate Tigers. Dabo Swinney and Clemson proved against Ohio State that they've a real contender—despite that weak schedule. Here's to a good game Monday night, one where little ole Clemson stays provides a fourth-quarter challenge. 

Laken Litman: LSU Snaps Clemson's Winning Streak With Ease

Well, I think the Tigers are going to win. The ones who play in Death Valley. Actually, I mean the ones who have the quarterback that will be a future No. 1 NFL draft pick. Jokes aside, LSU will snap Clemson’s 29-game winning streak in what is otherwise a home game for the Bayou Bengals in New Orleans. QB Joe Burrow will consistently hit Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase to overpower Clemson’s top-ranked defense, while LSU’s own standout defensive backs will return the favor by frustrating star receivers Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins. With the historic season LSU has had, there’s only one way for it to end. And that’s by winning the national championship and Burrow going out as MVP.

Max Meyer: The Pac-12 Will Impact the National Championship Winner

How is this possible, you may ask? Well, Pac-12 officials are the ones in charge in New Orleans, the same group responsible for the #Pac12Refs tweets you see so frequently. And it's not a complimentary hashtag. These are the worst referees known to mankind, and you better believe they are going to swing this game on Monday night. Will it be a controversial targeting ruling or an inexcusable fumble decision? I'm not sure what the controversial call will be, but make no mistake, it will be the talk among your office Tuesday morning.

Molly Geary: Clemson Wins...but Travis Etienne Is Held Under 100 Yards Rushing

I predicted Clemson to win this game, and on paper, it doesn't make much sense to think Dabo Swinney's team can do it without a big game on the ground from its star running back. But I think Clemson's strongest path to victory in this one is via Trevor Lawrence's rocket arm. Despite a well-regarded secondary, LSU's run defense has been stronger than its pass this season—particularly when it comes to big plays. Ed Orgeron's Tigers rank 105th in passing plays of 10 or more yards allowed, and 94th in passing plays of 20 or more yards allowed. Lawrence and receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross will look to take advantage—and don't be surprised to see Etienne get involved through the air as well, like he did against Ohio State with 98 receiving yards.

Michael Shapiro: Four Players Will Tally at Least 100 Receiving Yards. 

We could have a potential shootout in the national championship with two elite quarterbacks squaring off, and both teams certainly have enough talent on the outside to rack up the yardage. Ross and Higgins are the likely leaders for Clemson. Jefferson may fall short of his 227-yard effort against Oklahoma, but any LSU wideout can cross the 100-yard barrier with Burrow at quarterback. Expect to see plenty of offense in New Orleans.

Lorenzo Arguello: Etienne Fumbles at a Crucial Moment

Etienne is known for explosive plays, leading the nation in rushing yards per attempt. He’s also known for ball security—his last fumble came way back in September when Clemson barely escaped with a win against North Carolina. Etienne hasn’t lost the football in more than 130 carries. His ability to get into LSU’s secondary for huge gains will be key to a Clemson victory. The prediction here is that midway through the fourth quarter the game will turn on a big Etienne run. After Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ group gets a couple stops, the offense will be driving into LSU territory with a chance to flip the momentum ... only to watch Etienne get stripped inside the LSU 30-yard line and end the Tigers’ shot at taking a late lead.

Gambling: How Are The Experts Betting LSU vs. Clemson National Championship

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