hope that you all had a happy holiday season and a good 2020.
We now know that LSU and Clemson will be facing off for the BCS Title on January 13. I think LSU will win and, hopefully, will be able to explain it in this column.
To get there, LSU routed No. 4 Oklahoma 63-28 in a game where Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow totaled eight touchdowns (seven passing, one rushing), while Clemson beat No. 2 Ohio State 29-23 in a controversial game where Trevor Lawrence led a thrilling four-play drive in the final two minutes for the go-ahead touchdown.
The first thread is that both quarterbacks, Burrow and Lawrence, are expected to be the top picks in consecutive NFL Drafts (Burrow this year, Lawrence next year). Burrow set conference records with 5,208 yards and 55 touchdowns this season, while Lawrence is 25-0 as a starter (he didn’t start early in his freshman season) who has averaged 311 yards per game and thrown eight touchdowns with no interceptions in three playoff games.
Dabo Sweeney of Clemson has two national titles to his credit, with teams that had to rebuild on the fly and two different quarterbacks (De’Shawn Watson and Lawrence). Ed Oregeron of LSU has had one of those seasons where his talent clicked with his personality (No slander intended on his coaching as he was smart enough to get Drew Brees’ quarterback coach from the Saints, among other changes).
Both teams give their quarterbacks many weapons to use. LsU should have Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back with Ja’Marr Chase Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshakl, Jr at receiver. Clemson has Travis Etienne in the back field along with receivers Tee Higgins,Justyn Ros and Amari Rodgers It should make for a high scoring game.
A high-scoring offense raises questions over which defense coordinator will do a better job of stopping the opposing offense.
LSU’s Dave Aranda and Clemson’s Brent Venables are the two highest-paid assistant coaches in the FBS, and the $2 million question is, how will they slow these offenses down?
LSU rattled Jalen Hurts in the Peach Bowl, but Lawrence’s is the best arm they will have seen in the last two seasons, including Tua Tagovailoa. The chess match between Aranda and Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott will be intriguing. Defensive backs Derek Stingley Jr. and Grant Delpit will need to play tight.
Finally, one of those teams will reach the rare air of a 15-0 season. LSU has faced a fairly tough schedule, beating Oregon, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma, while Clemson has been criticized for being in a weak conference, unjustly. It should be a fun 37-31 victory for LSU.
We’ve finally got the NFL playoff field set. San Francisco got the top seed in the NFC, with Green Bay second. The Ravens and Chiefs hold those respective positions in the AFC. All four have this weekend off. Here are the playoff games for this weekend.
NFC: #3 seed New Orleans hosts #6 seed Minnesota. The Saints lost a classic game in the playoffs two years ago to Minnesota and the Saints’ fans will not forget that. I’m going with the Saints to win based on home field advantage and the Drew Brees-Michael Thomas combination.
NFC: Seattle #5 seed at Philadelphia #4 seed. Carson Wentz has put together a pretty decent season despite having few receivers due to injury. Still, Seattle was less than a touchdown away from having the weekend off and Russell Wilson is a serious MVP candidate. I’m going with the road team to win.
AFC: #3 seed New England hosts #6 seed Tennessee. The Patriots have their worst seeding in a long time and have never reached the Super Bowl in a year they have been seeded so low in the Bill Belichek-Tom Brady era. Tennessee benefited from Ryan Tannerhill’s revival and have the rushing champion in Derrick Henry. I’m going with New England to win, but not overwhelmingly.
AFC: Fifth seed Buffalo at fourth seed Houston. Buffalo and Houston both have young quarterbacks, but Deshawn Watson has playoff experience for Houston and Josh Allen doesn’t have playoff experience. Home ffield and Watson give Houston the edge.
Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter for the Princeton Times. Contact him at email@example.com