Mr. CFB: Ten things to look for in Monday night's CFP national championship game


New Orleans—Monday night’s CFP national championship game between No. 1 LSU (14-0) and No. 3 Clemson (14-0) has been analyzed and dissected in every possible manner.

But, for fun, let’s do it one more time.

Here are 10 things to watch for Monday night as the 2019 college football season comes to a close:

1—Clemson will be trying to win its 30th straight game and its third national championship in four years.

Clemson has a chance to win back-to-back national championships for the first time since Alabama did it in 2011-2012. Clemson is also trying to win consecutive national titles with undefeated seasons, something that has not been done since Nebraska in 1994 (13-0) and 1995 (12-0).

Clemson could post its 117th win of the decade. Only Alabama (123) would have more.

And if Clemson wins, it could lay claim to having college football’s most dominant program, a title Alabama has long held before missing the playoffs this season.

“Transformative,” was how Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, an Alabama grad, described what his team has done over the past decade. “We’ve transformed Clemson football. And the next decade is the Roaring 20s. So I’m excited about that one.”

Let the argument begin.

2—Joe Burrow’s date with history: Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner has completely re-written the LSU and SEC record books in one of the greatest seasons ever enjoyed by a quarterback.

But here are a couple of records that are still out there for Burrow on Monday night:

77.6: That is his completion percentage over 14 games. If he maintains that same pace against Clemson Burrow will break the NCAA record of 76.7 set by Colt McCoy of Texas in 2008.

55—The number of touchdowns Burrow has thrown this season. With three more on Monday night he’ll tie the record of 58 set by Hawaii’s Colt Brennan in 2007.

3—Something’s got to give:

LSU leads the nation in scoring at 48.7 points per game.

Clemson leads the nation in scoring defense at 11.5 points per game and defensive coordinator Brent Venables has had two weeks to get his unit ready for LSU.

But LSU has played a bunch of good defenses this season. Specifically:

No. 2 Georgia (12.6 ppg)..Won 37-10

No. 7 Florida (15.50)…Won 42-28

No. 13 Alabama (18.6)..Won 46-41

No. 17 Auburn (19.5)..Won 23-20.

4—Dome Sweet Dome:

LSU will be playing for the national championship 80 miles from its campus in Baton Rouge. LSU has had some success at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:

**--With Nick Saban as its head coach, LSU defeated Oklahoma 21-14 for the 2003 BCS National Championship.

**--After a 2007 season that saw LSU jump from No. 7 to No. 2 in the final BCS standings, the Tigers beat No. 1 Ohio State 38-24 for the national title. LSU became the first team with two losses to win the BCS championship.

**--Things didn’t go so well in 2011. After beating Alabama 9-6 (OT) in Tuscaloosa in “The Game of the Century” the Tigers got a rematch with the Crimson Tide for the BCS championship here in New Orleans and were dominated 21-0.

And now LSU is back playing for another national title in the Big Easy. It will be interesting to see the makeup of the crowd.

“When I saw that the championship game was going to be here and the fact that we would play Auburn and Florida at home I thought we would have a chance to do this,” said Orgeron. “It has worked out exactly as we hoped.”

5--Quick strike: Of the 85 touchdowns LSU has scored his season, 67 have come on drives of less than three minutes.

6--Coach O against The Top 10: LSU will be playing its seventh Top 10 (ranking at the time) team of the season. LSU is 11-3 against Top 10 teams under Ed Orgeron

7—Front runners: LSU has trailed only five times this season and has never trailed by more than a touchdown. It has not trailed in the fourth quarter this season.

8—First 15-0 team in SEC history?: LSU is the fifth team in SEC history (and third program) to go 14-0. With a win LSU would be the first team in SEC history to go 15-0. Alabama went 14-0 in 2009, 2016, and 2018. Auburn went 14-0 in 2010.

9—Homecoming for Etienne: Clemson running back Travis Etienne, from Jennings, Louisiana, has 3,960 yards of career rushing. He needs only seven yards to set the school record of Raymond Priester (1994-97) and 40 yards to become only the ninth running back in ACC history to go for 4,000 yards.

10—This could be the best senior class in Clemson history:

With a victory over LSU, this Clemson senior class (2016-2019) will have 56 wins and three national championships. That would break the school record of 55 wins set by the previous senior class (2015-2018).


Tony Barnhart