One way or another, the Tigers will win the national championship (we promise this is the only time we’ll use it).
No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Clemson advanced to the Academy Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma and Ohio State, respectively, for an exciting title match.
LSU led No 4 Oklahoma 63-28 to a game where Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow totaled eight falls (seven passing, one rushing), while Clemson beat No. 2 Ohio State 29-23 in a controversial game where Trevor Lawrence led a thrilling four-minute touchdown run.
Fiesta Bowl | Peach bowl
Now, Clemson and LSU will meet at the Academy Football Soccer Game on January 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. It’s another ACC-SEC matchup, and there are twice as many Tigers as we used to see.
Here are five title-game stories to get you started on the party:
Burrow vs. Lawrence
Last year’s match between Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama was good. Could this be better?
The answer is yes. You’re looking at the No. 1 overall pick in the next two NFL Drafts, and their converging story should only create the hype. Burrow has 5,208 passes and 55 passing touchdowns – part of a record-setting season in the SEC that may not be of equal value if he is able to accumulate a national championship above all.
Then there is Lawrence, who is 25-0 as a freshman after leading the Tigers beyond the Buckeyes on Saturday. In three Playoff games, he has averaged 311 passing yards and eight touchdowns in zero interceptions.
Big matchbacks tend to produce unforgettable games. This is no exception.
Coach and Dabo presses
Ed Orgeron has a clear voice that will be New Orleans’ talk with LSU playing close to home. How tight will this play near a league game?
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, meanwhile, shared the podium with Nick Saban in the league twice. Does he postpone questions to Coach O now?
Chances are both coaches are legible, and it will be interesting to see how they riff together. That alone will be worth seeing in front of the game.
Skill players in the Superdome
You will be able to win your fantastic football league with a combination of these players in the near future.
LSU would have to have a healthy Clyde Edwards-Helaire to go in with the receiver combination of Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall Jr. Clemson’s Travis Etienne took some time to face Ohio State, but could find success early against LSU’s defense. The trio taking on Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers will be faster on the Superdome turf.
This is going to be a high-scoring game.
MORE: LSU exposes longtime issues of Oklahoma Play-off
Accurate defensive coordinators
What will the defense coordinators do to slow down? LSU’s Dave Aranda and Clemson’s Brent Venables are the two top assistant coaches at FBS, and the $ 2 million question is how will these offenses slow down?
LSU beat Jalen Hurts in the Peach drink, but Lawrence’s is the best hand they’ve seen in the last two seasons, including Tagovailoa. The chess match between Aranda and Clemson’s offensive coordinator Tony Elliott will be interesting. The defensive backs of Derek Stingley Jr. and Grant Delpit will have to play tight.
Clemson is bent – but not broken – against the state of Ohio, and Venables should take his points against an attack designed by Steve Ensminger and passed by game coordinator Joe Brady. Security Tanner Muse and Linebacker Isaiah Simmons will have a handful against these players.
Another 15-0 season
For all the talk of the SEC and ACC fatigue and the resurgence of eight-team Playoff speech that is sure to come before January 13th, remember this:
These are the two best college football teams, and one of them will be 15-0. This will not often happen in the season of the four teams and will be even rarer when the Playoff is extended to eight teams.
LSU has the chance to win the national championship at its doorstep, which it did in 2003 and 2007 (lost its last appearance there in Alabama in 2011). The Superdome could host the latest magical scene for Burrow, Orgeron and a team that collected top 10 wins in Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma.
Or, Clemson could be silent on all the criticisms of a weak schedule, win his 30th consecutive game and enter 2020 with the chance to win three in a row and four in five years under Swinney. Lawrence could lead the way, and that would be just as remarkable.
We look forward to all of this. You are not;