Clemson vs LSU: Odds, Top X-Factors for CFP National Championship 2020. Quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence are expected to be the focal points of the buildup to the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship.
Etienne was able to exploit small gaps in the Ohio State defense, and if he does the same against LSU, the ACC champion may have a slight edge in a battle of loaded offenses. The junior, who had a limited role in the Peach Bowl versus the Oklahoma Sooners, totaled 50 receptions for 399 yards over 14 games.
Prior to December 28, the junior’s top receiving total this season was 52 in a September 7 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies. LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been a more consistent option for Burrow alongside a handful of standout wide receivers.
National Championship Odds
Odds via Caesars.
Spread: LSU (-5.5)
Money Line: LSU (-220; bet $220 to win $100); Clemson (+185; bet $100 to win $185)
National Championship X-Factors
Running Backs in the Passing Game
One of the top takeaways from Clemson’s Fiesta Bowl win over the Ohio State Buckeyes was Travis Etienne’s impact on the passing game. The running back brought in three passes for 98 yards and scored twice by using his speed in open space.
An underrated aspect of both offenses could be key to taking an advantage in New Orleans, especially for the Clemson Tigers in what could feel like a road environment. While the play of the signal-callers will be important, there are plenty of other players who will impact the contest at the Superdome. The LSU Tigers may face their toughest task of the season getting to Lawrence, who has avoided sacks for the majority of the campaign.
The statistics may show Burrow is easier to reach in the pocket, but if LSU gains an advantage in that area, it could win a title in its home state.
Edwards-Helaire is expected to be a greater factor January 13, as head coach Ed Orgeron noted after the national semifinal that the running back was close to being back at full speed
“I think by next Wednesday he should be full speed,” he said. “I think we’ll take it slow with him, see what he can do.” If both lead backs become passing-game assets in the national championship, each defense will have another weapon to worry about.
In addition to being the team’s leading rusher, Edwards-Helaire owns the third-most receptions behind JaMarr Chase and Justin Jefferson. He was most effective in the November 9 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, when he had nine receptions for 77 yards to go along with his 103 rushing yards.
LSU’s Chase and Jefferson and Clemson’s Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins may attract more attention from defensive backs, which could leave space around the line of scrimmage for the running backs to leak out and earn crucial gains.
Three linebackers, including the recently reinstated Michael Divinity, have three or more takedowns, while safety JaCoby Stevens has five. Divinity, who has only played in five games, could be LSU’s X-factor in pressuring Lawrence. He had 54 tackles and five sacks last season.
This seems like a simple X-factor, but it could make a huge difference, especially for LSU’s defense.
Lawrence has only been sacked 15 times in 14 games, but eight of those have occurred in the previous four contests.
Ohio State was able to reach the sophomore, even without Heisman Trophy finalist Chase Young making a massive impact. LSU’s defense totaled 35 sacks, with a bulk of those coming from linebackers and defensive backs.