It has taken awhile to get here, but the championship game is at hand. Here are Inquirer staff writers’ picks for Monday night’s title game. Not to put the hex on her or anything, but sports writer Erin McCarthy has hit 21 of the last 27 bowl games.
She, and her forlorn colleagues, lay out their selections. Bowl game and season records are below.
Here’s hoping this is the first installment of a decade or so worth of postseason games between LSU’s Joe Burrow and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Will be interesting to see how they fare at the next level.
But for now, they are both Tigers. To pick one is not to diminish the other, but, boy, the horses that run with Burrow are relentless. Can’t blame Oklahoma for devising a game plan to stop All-American wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the semifinals. So Burrow goes to Justin Jefferson for 14 catches, 227 touchdowns and four scores.
The line is heavier than a field goal because this is in LSU’s backyard. Really hard to geaux against Burreaux. LSU, 35-27.
» READ MORE: These teams have some excellent RBs, too
Alabama and Georgia showed in their bowls that the SEC was the class of the sport this season. LSU was the class of the SEC. But this is uncharted territory for the Tigers. Clemson to cover in a classic. LSU, 38-35.
It’s only fitting that the final game of the 2019 college football season is also the most difficult to handicap. Yes, LSU’s Joe Burrow had a transcendent season throwing the ball and will put points on the scoreboard for his team. But Clemson’s defense had a special year, leading the nation in points allowed (11.5 per game) and pass defense (151.5 yards per game) and was second in total defense (264.1).
Sure, the Clemson schedule wasn’t nearly as difficult as that of LSU, but the thought is that Dabo Swinney and his defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, have devised the schemes needed to stop Burrow and his teammates. And Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence showed his moxie in a big game in the semifinal win over Ohio State, gaining the confidence to know he can do it again.
As much as I hate Swinney whining about how people disrespect his program, I’ve got to give the nod here to Clemson, 41-38.
I typically root against repeat champions (with the exception of future me, next season, when I attempt a back-to-back Philadelphia Inquirer-Daily News College Football Prediction title). But in the semifinals, I was so impressed by Clemson’s fight against an Ohio State squad that had looked unstoppable all season.
Yes, this Joe Burrow-led LSU offense is incredibly daunting, but so is Clemson’s defense, which ranks only behind the Buckeyes in yards allowed per game and per play. On the other side of the ball, QB Trevor Lawrence is a winner, plain and simple. He’s won 70 of the last 71 games he’s been a part of (29 straight at Clemson, plus a 41-game winning streak in high school). His banged-up receiving corps has used this time off to get healthy, so the offense should be even more explosive when it returns to the field in New Orleans.
It’s possible Clemson wins outright. If not, my metaphorical money is on Lawrence to keep the reigning national champs within striking distance. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one comes down to a field goal. Clemson, 38-35.
Clemson has been enjoying its rare role as underdog and in most cases it would be tough to pick against these Tigers but they are facing a quarterback in Joe Burrow who arguably is having the greatest year in college football history.
I go with the Heisman Trophy winner to finish out in style before seeing what life looks like on the other side with the Cincinnati Bengals. LSU, 35-28.
The Tigers from the Palmetto State are motivated after being tattooed with a label that is all too familiar to us here in Philly – the underdog.
The defending champions breezed through their schedule – minus speed bumps against North Carolina and Ohio State – like a southern hurricane and have been overlooked all season despite extending their record-winning streak to 29 games. Flowing locks and all, Trevor Lawrence does not lose, period. Even though it is playing in LSU’s backyard, there is no reason to believe Clemson will not only cover the spread, but also claim its third national championship in four years. Clemson, 38-34.
They’re the best team in the country and the game’s in New Orleans. That’s all I need. LSU, 38-28.
Note: Luke Reasoner did not pick in Week 1.