No. 1 LSU (14-0) meets No. 3 Clemson (14-0) in the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. It’s a battle of Tigers that will crown a 15-0 national champion for the second consecutive season.
Clemson will aim to win its second straight national championship and run its winning streak to 30 consecutive games under Dabo Swinney. LSU will look to win its third national championship this century, and the first under coach Ed Orgeron.
With that in mind, Sporting News’ staff makes its predictions for next Monday’s game:
Clemson vs. LSU picks
Bill Bender: LSU 38, Clemson 31
“I thought last year’s quarterback matchup between Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence would make for the best national title game ever — I was a year off. This year, we get the next two No. 1 picks in the NFL Draft in Lawrence and SN Player of the Year Joe Burrow, and they will put on a show that resembles the first two Playoff shootouts between Alabama and Clemson. Don’t underestimate Clemson in this spot: They’re good enough to win. But in the end, Burrow leads the late-game heroics in a game that picks up scoring in the second half. LSU and Burrow go down in history as one of the greatest SEC teams of all time. Lawrence and Clemson will have to wait until the next run.” — Bender
Mike DeCourcy: LSU 37, Clemson 21
“Watching Clemson escape Ohio State in the semifinals convinced me of two things: The Tigers weren’t better than Ohio State, and neither are they as good as LSU. LSU will run through this game with ease. It will not enjoy the level of comfort it did in its semi against Oklahoma. That was a morning walk through a fresh meadow. They’ll at least have to break a sweat here, but Clemson will not stop LSU’s offense unless it simply falls down too often in the red zone.” — DeCourcy
Vinnie Iyer: LSU 42, Clemson 38
“Lawrence may be the better longterm NFL quarterback prospect than Burrow, but here Burrow will complete one of the greatest quarterback seasons in college football history, with a national title to go with his Heisman. Burrow will make a few more big plays to wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase than Lawrence does with Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross. LSU will walk off with its first championship in a dozen years with by taking advantage of the game’s final possession.” — Iyer
Zac Al-Khateeb: LSU 38, Clemson 28
“Four teams played in the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 28, but only one looked championship-caliber. Everyone expected LSU to score with ease on Oklahoma, but its defensive effort — limiting the Sooners to 322 yards and forcing a turnover — showed this team not only is playing well in all phases of the game, but also peaking at the right moment. Credit Clemson for a gutty comeback win over Ohio State, but some controversial calls and Buckeyes mistakes helped the Tigers to a win. If LSU and Clemson play the way they did in the semifinals, then LSU will cruise to a victory. Swinney should have Clemson playing at a higher level at this stage, but that won’t be enough against Orgeron, Burrow and Co.” — Al-Khateeb