National Championship Game 2020 The national champion will be crowned Monday night when Clemson and LSU square off at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Bleacher Report’s college football experts have convened once again to provide insight and analysis for the upcoming showdown. Previously, the group discussed LSU’s home-field advantage and the challenges both defensive backfields will encounter, among other topics.
This time around, the panel—David Kenyon, Kerry Miller, Joel Reuter and Brad Shepard—are battling the numbers. Save for a question involving receivers, all lines are courtesy of Caesars and accurate as of Thursday afternoon.
As usual, let me preface with saying I’m pulling for the over. I enjoy watching great offense, and both Clemson and LSU have that. However, I believe it’ll be under 35 with LSU holding a slim advantage heading into the locker room. I anticipate Clemson will make a couple of red-zone stops, which should be rather important later in the game.
Under, though not by much. I think for both teams, the early stages of this game will be about establishing the run, probing the opposing defense for weak points and trying not to commit the game-altering turnover. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a boring 6-3 type of game at halftime, but I do think most of the fireworks will come in the second half, similar to the Alabama-Clemson national championships in January 2016 and 2017. Neither of those games reached 30 by halftime, but they each had at least 45 points after the break.
Over. LSU had 33 points in the first half against Alabama earlier this year and 49 in the first half against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl. They know how to come out hot. Both teams could look to take some shots early before the defenses gets their bearings, so I’d expect plenty of early fireworks.
Over. Both teams are going to come out swinging, and it’s the type of showdown in which both sides are going to feel like they have to trade punches. LSU’s haymaker is Joe Burrow and the passing game, of course, and that group puts so much pressure on you that Clemson will open it up early, too. I do not think Dabo’s team will start nearly as slowly as it did against Ohio State. If Clemson does, it’ll get blown out of the water.
I’ll take LSU -3.5. To me, the decisive matchup is LSU’s offense vs. Clemson’s defense, and both coordinators will be attempting to execute a specific game plan. LSU’s explosiveness should have success early, though I have considerably high expectations for Clemson DC Brent Venables to make smart adjustments at halftime as he’s repeatedly done in CFP games.
Clemson +3.5. Not sure which team will have the one-point lead, but I see this being a 14-13 white-knuckle affair at halftime. It hasn’t happened often for either team, though. Clemson was tied with North Carolina after two quarters in September and trailed Ohio State by two at halftime two weeks ago. LSU was all knotted up with both Florida and Auburn in those October battles. In the other 24 games they’ve played, both sets of Tigers had a relatively comfortable lead by the intermission. But a virtual tie seems more likely than one of these teams digging itself an inescapable hole.
LSU -3.5. I fully expect this one to be close throughout, with the two teams trading points in a high-scoring first half. LSU has shown a knack for lighting it up early in big games, but Clemson has the weapons to answer and keep things within striking distance heading into the break. I’ll say LSU 24-17 at the half.
LSU -3.5. I think Burrow will lead an early touchdown drive and the two sides will trade punches. It wouldn’t surprise me for the halftime score to be around 24-14 Bayou Bengals—and then for things to perhaps settle down throughout the third when adjustments are made.