Clemson Tigers vs. LSU Tigers Pick

January 13, 9:00 PM EST

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
CLEM +5.5 / LSU -5.5

The Clemson Tigers battle the LSU Tigers for the CFP National Championship on January 13 in New Orleans. It’s a heavyweight battle between the top-ranked LSU and a Clemson bunch that is going for its third national title in four seasons. Clemson overcame an excellent Ohio State in the CFP Semifinal, coming from off the pace to win, 29-23. LSU, meanwhile, saw their Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow smash bowl records en route to a 63-28 win over Oklahoma. After the LSU’s video game-like performance, are they too much to stop right now? Or will Clemson show the heart of a champion and find a way into the winner’s circle? With 29 straight wins, it’s hard to question Clemson, but it’s just as hard to go against LSU right now.

Concern for LSU

Clemson is accustomed to this. LSU is the one that has to show they’re cut out to thrive in this very elevated context. Clemson is the defending champ and going for its 30th straight win, and that counts for something, no matter how fearsome the opponent might be. The semifinals may have painted a distorted picture, with LSU lighting the sky on fire, while Clemson struggled to get over the hump, perhaps even catching a few breaks along the way. But maybe a game where Clemson had to overcome a lot was the perfect prelude before facing an LSU team that’s definitely going to bring the heat.

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It’s just not easy to beat a team led by Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, who has a bit of the magic touch. His legs were a big part of the win over Ohio St. and could resonate against an LSU defense that has struggled in spots against the more-nimble quarterbacks they have faced. Add to the equation a completely stocked offensive cast with guys like Travis Etienne peaking and an oversized group of receivers, and it’s hard to neglect this group, even against what appears to be a monstrous LSU team. Let’s also not forget that Clemson has the nation’s top-ranked defense and is a virtual factory for future NFL studs. Against a high-powered Ohio State offense, they struggled early, before allowing one lone Buckeyes’ score over the last 37 minutes of game time. So this isn’t just any old defense LSU is going against in this one.

The Harsh Realities for Clemson

Even a steadfast contrarian would have to concede that LSU indeed looked special in their last game. To thrive like that in such a massive setting is eye-opening, as a great LSU offense took it to a different level not before seen. Joe Burrow has completed 78% of his throws this season, but seven first-half touchdowns against the best defense in the Big 12 was jaw-dropping. While the top secondary in the nation in Clemson will likely curtail that, to what extent can they righteously expect to blunt an offense that looks as good as any seen in the college ranks in years?

At this time in the season, rhythm and momentum count for something and this LSU team is really in a groove right now, especially Burrow, who in his last four games has 17 TDs, no picks, and 1521 yards. There is nothing wrong with taking a guy on a big old roll. And while it is true that they are going against the top-ranked secondary in the land, the matchups could shake out favorably, with monsters like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Terrance Marshall (questionable), and Thaddeus Moss. Against Clemson’s man-coverage, the LSU receivers could have a field day, though it won’t be easy against the Clemson personnel and coaching.

*** Due to a technical issue we posted this betting preview after kickoff. 

Clemson vs LSU Prediction

When you’re getting points on a proven winner on a big roll of wins with a great QB who has never lost, it's hard to pass up. And when that team has a better defense, it makes it that much harder. I see the LSU offensive line being under siege, which will disrupt Burrow just enough to keep him from approaching the kind of game he had against Oklahoma. Having been here before and winning as underdogs will show, with the calm and cool Lawrence keeping Clemson right in this game. Clemson is a team the knows how to accumulate the little edges, and their preparedness, experience, attention to detail, and ability to adjust on the fly will serve them well in this spot. I'm taking Clemson. 

Free Pick: 
Take Clemson +5.5