LSU vs. Clemson has all the makings for a phenomenal championship game. That's what you want for the final game of the college football season—the country's two best teams duking it out in what will be a star-studded field in one of the great venues in all of sports: the Superdome.
It's two teams that carry in very impressive win streaks, with the purple and gold winners of 15 straight games while Clemson has won 29 straight, a streak dating back to 2017 that is tied for the 12th-longest streak in college football history.
It's a game that features two explosive offenses, led by sure fire first-round draft picks in Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence, each with weapons riddled from sideline to sideline. With LSU having explosive guys like Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Terrace Marshall and Thaddeus Moss, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables will probably have a lot of sleepless nights.
That's O.K., because Venables will probably not be the only one scratching his head on how to slow down the opposition's highly talented offensive weapons. LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will be pondering how to slow down a Clemson offense that features running back Travis Etienne, receivers Justyn Ross, Amari Rodgers and vertical threat Tee Higgins, who's averaging an astounding 19.9 yards per catch.
LSU has made major strides on defense in recent weeks, holding Texas A&M to seven points, Georgia to 10 points and a top-five offense in Oklahoma to a season-low 28 points.
With an over/under set at 69 points, the odds makers are expecting this to be a high-scoring affair. With that much talent on the offensive side on both teams, the defense that can string together early stops might have the best track into pulling out a win.
Clemson has yet to face an offense the likes of LSU, but that's because nobody has faced an offense that's looked like this. Burrow is possibly having the greatest passing season in college football history, throwing for 5,208 yards and 55 touchdowns on 77.6% completion percentage, currently a college record for a single season.
If Burrow were to throw four touchdowns against Clemson on Jan. 13, he'd pass Colt Brennan for the most touchdown passes in a single season. In the Tigers' 63-28 win over Oklahoma, LSU became the first offense in college football history to feature a 5,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season.
The defenses are nothing to sneeze at either, with Clemson allowing the fewest points per game (11.5) in 2019 and LSU playing its best ball on the defensive side for much of December. Venables is one of the great defensive minds in the game today and rest assured he'll throw something new at Burrow that he's yet to see.
But that's what the senior quarterback has come to expect.
"We've faced something different like the last six weeks than what we've seen on film, so I have to go in and make those in-game adjustments," Burrow said before the Oklahoma game. "The first play, we'll know. Like against Georgia, Auburn, Texas A&M, you go out and like, wow, I haven't seen this on film. I don't know why I watched film this week. So we'll go out and figure it out, like we always do. But it gets a little frustrating when you watch film all this time and it doesn't matter because they don't play that defense."
Clemson has one of the elite secondaries in 2019, allowing just 151 yards passing to opposing quarterbacks, No. 1 in the country. The unit is led by safety turned linebacker Isaiah Simmons, whose 97 tackles, seven sacks and three interceptions in 2019 helped him earn the Butkus Award.
Cornerbacks A.J. Terrell and Derion Kendrick, a converted wide receiver, will be tasked with covering Chase and Marshall on the outside while Simmons seems to be a prime candidate to see more time in pass coverage with Jefferson fresh off a 14-catch, 227-yard and four-touchdown performance against Oklahoma.
This season, the Clemson secondary has allowed the second-fewest passing touchdowns with just nine passes finding the endzone. Considering Burrow threw seven in the first half against Oklahoma, it goes without saying that the senior is expecting a much bigger challenge in the “Big Easy.“
The matchups will be closely dissected for much of the next two weeks but one thing is certain: the Tigers are going to win the 2019 national championship.