After a long, winding year, we’ve reached the end of the college football season, and only two teams remain. Tonight, Clemson University will face LSU for the national championship in a battle of the Tigers.
And while, at a glance, most people will likely pick top-ranked LSU to take the trophy tonight, I think it will actually be the Tigers from South Carolina who finish the season atop the college football world.
Offensively, both Clemson and LSU are juggernauts, and both teams feature some of the top quarterback talent in the nation. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner, will likely be the top overall pick in the NFL draft this year. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has been a finalist the last two years, will likely be the top pick in the following year’s NFL draft.
And while LSU features the top quarterback in the nation over the past year, it’s Clemson that features the more balanced offensive attack. LSU does, admittedly, have one of the top passing games in the country. Clemson, by comparison, has the top passing game and the top rushing game in the nation.
Travis Etienne, running back for Clemson, will be able to slice and dice his way through LSU tackles, and help provide his team with the balance it needs to stymie their SEC rivals. And receivers Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins are also more dependable than just about any receiver for LSU.
LSU, to its credit, has its own slew of stars for Burrow to throw to, including standout wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson.
Because of each team’s offensive firepower, the game will be won on the defensive end. And unfortunately for the team from Louisiana, defense is where Clemson separates itself from its opponent.
Clemson has the best pass rush defense in the nation, and it’s a beast unlike anything Burrow and the rest of the LSU offense has had to contend with. Clemson has a slew of players who can pressure even the surest of quarterbacks, including Isaiah Simmons, James Skalski, Chad Smith and Tyler Davis. Simmons is perhaps the most dominant linebacker in the entire country.
Clemson’s tandem of linebackers should become even more potent in the red zone, where LSU has proven to already be somewhat mediocre. No team is better equipped at making LSU settle for field goals in the red zone, and that’s a recipe for success for Clemson.
Tommy Culkin is a staff writer for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His column is published on Monday.