We talked to six national media members here in New Orleans covering Monday’s CFP National Championship Game between LSU and Clemson to get their predictions on the big showdown. Here’s what they said:
TONY BARNHART, SEC NETWORK
LSU 35, CLEMSON 24
I just think Joe Burrow, this team, in this city, it’s a team of destiny. We haven’t seen anything offensively like what they have done. I was very impressed with Clemson coming back the way they did against Ohio State (in the Fiesta Bowl). I think it will be close. But the fact of the matter is Clemson has not played against a tougher schedule. As good as Clemson is, I don’t think it will be enough.
BILL BENDER, THE SPORTING NEWS
LSU 38, CLEMSON 31
I think Trevor Lawrence will move the ball better than they did against Ohio State. But it’s hard to pick against Joe Burrow, this offense, and a team that hasn’t had an off night all season. Clemson will dial up blitzes like they did against Tua (Tagovailoa) last year that Joe’s probably not seen. But Joe can escape. So can Lawrence, but if (Burrow) gets free and the receivers run free, they’ll be in good shape.
Before each game Joe Burrow does the same thing to get focused. Sometimes it means he even loses consciousness.
HEATHER DINICH, ESPN
LSU 35, CLEMSON 31
You can break down the X’s and O’s as much as you want, and we’ve all been doing that for two weeks. But there’s no way I’m picking against LSU in New Orleans. I think Dabo (Swinney) said it Sunday: This is basically worse than a road game for them. There’s just something magical about LSU this season. It’s nothing scientific. It’s just for them to be here playing for the title, I’m not picking against it.
DENNIS DODD, CBSSPORTS.COM
LSU 32, CLEMSON 29
I think the quality of athlete on the field defensively will limit the score, much as it did in the Fiesta Bowl. But can Brent Venables slow down Joe Burrow and the LSU offense? I think he can, but I don’t think he can enough, because nobody has. I think their set of receivers are the best now that Alabama is out of it. It’s one game, best coach, best player. I think it’s destiny now.
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IVAN MAISEL, ESPN
LSU 38, CLEMSON 27
My prediction changes hourly. Before I got here, I was totally convinced LSU would roll over them. Now that I’m here, I’m starting to think about Clemson being (in the CFP) so often. But I’m not going to pick against LSU. There’s just so many weapons. And I like how they seem to have gotten better every week. This LSU team had a big, emotional win over Alabama and got better. To me, that’s a big thing.
BRETT McMURPHY, WATCHSTADIUM.COM
CLEMSON 38, LSU 34
This will be the seventh time Clemson is an underdog in the CFP, but they’re 5-1 in the previous six. Somehow, Dabo (Swinney) has gotten a team that has won 29 in a row to believe they’re underdogs, they’re disrespected, and they’re coming into the most hostile environment in the history of sports. They buy into it. I think the Ohio State game showed to kill Clemson you have to drive a stake through their heart.
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