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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Clemson over Lsu by 1

By Marc Lawrence — There’s a lot more at stake here tonight than just the CFP National Championship: there’s also temporary ownership of
the words ‘Death Valley’ when referring to a team’s home field.
According to ESPN and Hero Sports, Clemson’s Memorial Stadium
was first called Death Valley in the 1940s by Presbyterian coach
Lonnie McMillan, but LSU’s Tiger Stadium reportedly didn’t pick up
the Death name until 1959, when the Tigers defeated Clemson in
the Sugar Bowl to win the national title. However, with both teams
unbeaten heading into this contest, we think the winner should take
sole possession of the moniker until their next meeting (scheduled
to play a home-and-home series in 2025-2026). Even without that
bit of history – or the fact that both teams are ‘Tigers’ – this one
has the makings of an instant classic. In the orange corner, we
have the defending national champion Clemson Tigers, survivors
of an epic 29-23 semifi nal clash with Ohio State, looking to win
their 30th consecutive game and third national title in the last four
years. Can you spell d-y-n-a-s-t-y? While it will take something
special to stop Dabo Swinney and company in their quest, Ed
Orgeron’s Bayou Bengals (in the gold corner) own the tools. It all
starts with Heisman Trophy winning QB Joe Burrow, who tossed 17
TD passes in his first four games this season, noteworthy because
in the previous 5 years LSU had not thrown 17 TD passes in an
entire season. Burrow is still just as hot, airing it out for 7 TDs – the
most ever in a college football playoff game – in a 63-28 semifinal
destruction of Oklahoma that was so brutal, viewers switched over
to Live PD Cam or Dr. Phil reruns until the Clemson-Ohio State
matchup kicked off. Sure, Burrow may look like McCauley Culkin’s
separated-at-birth twin, but it’s the face of a killer: how does 55 TD
passes versus only 6 interceptions sound to you? Fortunately for
Clemson, they own an SEC-quality defense to throw against the
LSU juggernaut. The upstate SC Tigers held NINE foes to season low
– or 2nd low – yards this year, and they’re ranked No. 1 nationally
in yards per pass allowed at 5.52 (compare that to LSU’s 10.7 YPP
average in 2019). The Louisiana Tigers also have a solid defense, and
will look to pressure Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence with the same
fierce pass rush that harassed Jalen Hurts throughout the Sooners’
game. They’d better bring it because Lawrence is 25-0 as a starter
with Clemmie and has not thrown a pick in his last 201 passes.
In fact, the Tigers are the only team in the last decade to return a
3,000 yard passer, 1,500 yard rusher and 1,000 yard receiver. Our
tireless database also likes coach Swinney’s ATS history: 14-5 ATS
as a dog off a win, including 8-1 ATS versus undefeated foes, and
5-2 ATS versus SEC foes, including 3-0 ATS as a dog. Yes, Clemson
fought tooth-and-nail for a full 60 minutes against Ohio State while
LSU rested key personnel after blowing out to a 49-14 halftime
lead over Oklahoma, but Swinney’s cats lucked out with an extra
week of healing time thanks to this year’s oddball scheduling.
Many are making a big deal out of LSU’s ‘homefield advantage’
at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 80 or so miles from the Tigers’
Baton Rouge campus. However, Clemson fans are notorious for
descending en masse in these games, so it might not prove to be
the advantage some are expecting. So it all comes down to picking
your poison. A finely tuned LSU offense that scored season-high
points against 7 foes this year, or a seasoned big-game underdog
with simply too much pedigree to ignore? Considering the dog is
5-0 ATS all-time in College Football Playoff Championship games,
and the SEC stands 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS in CFP title contests, we’ll
fade the Bayou Bengals tonight. Hold that Tiger.

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