Clemson takes on LSU tonight for the college football national championship. The line, which ballooned up to around -6.5 for LSU, has narrowed in recent days, and plenty of national media figures are backing the defending national champs in this one.
Today, FS1’s Colin Cowherd gave his prediction for the game. He laid out five reasons why he really likes Clemson over their Tiger counterparts.
He calls Clemson’s slow start, and big bounceback from the first quarter of the Ohio State game the “Mike Tyson theory,” where it takes a great team that’s been a bit untested a punch in the mouth to wake up. He says that if people are “being honest,” the Dabo Swinney/Trevor Lawrence combination is better than Ed Orgeron and Joe Burrow. He also buys into the lack of respect for Clemson that Swinney has harped on for years now.
He also brings up LSU’s defense, which has given up more points than your typical national title team, multiple times, and likes the undeniable championship experience edge that Clemson has.
From Cowherd’s five reasons for picking Clemson:
1. Mike Tyson Theory: “When you’ve played a weak schedule, the first quarter against a really good team—Ohio State—gets you back on your heels. From the end of the first quarter on, Clemson did whatever they wanted against Ohio State’s great team… Clemson, now facing LSU, won’t be back on their heels. They’ll be ready to go from snap one.
2. Better Coach/QB Combo: “Dabo’s a better coach, and Trevor Lawrence is a better quarterback. That’s a big edge.”
3. No Respect Advantage: “All Clemson has done over the last seven day is hear how great Ed Orgeron is, how great Joe Burrow is, and how Clemson has no shot to win this game. Did anyone watch Clemson-‘Bama last year?”
4. Been Here Before: “37 players on the roster for Clemson have taken a snap in a National Championship Game. Zero for LSU have.”
5. LSU’s Questionable Defense: “None of the eight national champions have ranked as poorly in scoring defense as LSU did this year. Five of the eight last national champions were No. 1 in scoring defense. Clemson is No. 1 in scoring defense.”
The full clip:
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) January 13, 2020
He raises some good points, but you can make a very good argument for LSU as well, if you want to go directly against his points.
If the “Mike Tyson theory” is valid, LSU can say the reverse on the “questionable defense” points. Many of the points that the Tigers have surrendered this year have come in garbage time, and the Tigers dealt with numerous injuries on that side of the ball. They’re about as healthy tonight as they have been all year.
Both Orgeron and Swinney are CEO types. You can probably give Swinney an advantage given his experience in these games, but Orgeron is much farther ahead at this point in his head coaching tenure than Swinney was at Clemson, and both teams employ elite coordinators on both sides of the ball.
As for the no respect thing, that has obviously worked for Clemson, and LSU has taken a very different, more swaggering and confident front-runner approach. This is all impossible to measure, and probably won’t mean a ton on either side. Both teams know what they’re up against.
Tonight’s title game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.