By Charles Jay
There probably could not have been a better match for Monday night’s NCAA football championship. You’ve got the defending champions going up against the team that is considered an irresistible force on the offensive end. Joe Burrow and his LSU Tigers will have a chance to unseat the Clemson Tigers. And they can do so in front of an audience that is largely in their favor. These teams slug it out beginning at 8 PM ET at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Remember that if you are a BetAnySports customer, can place wagers on this game as it is in progress, utilizing the state-of-the-art software from Sports Betting Ultra.
As we look at what we are going to do with our WagerWAR play, there are a lot of reasons to like the LSU side. One of them is that Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner, has been a about as close to perfect as any college quarterback ever. He’s completed 77.6% of his passes, has been intercepted only six times. He has connected with his receivers for 55 touchdowns and is 72% even when he is being blitzed.
So Burrow has thus far pretty much been able to do it all, and in all situations. So it is up to the Clemson defensive staff to present him with situations he hasn’t seen before. That’s probably easier said than done.
NCAA Football Championship – LSU has met some of the best
LSU is by no means unproven against top-level competition. In fact, six of their opponents have been in the nation’s top 10 when they have played them. That included Alabama and Georgia from the SEC. And of course it also includes Oklahoma, which gave up seven touchdown passes to Burrow in the first half two weeks ago on the way to a 63-28 beating.
NCAA Football Championship – And what about the stop unit?
For those people who think LSU has done this without defense, think again. The Bayou Bengals have a top flight secondary, featuring a number of guys who will wind up playing on Sundays. The group includes All-American safety Grant Delpit, cornerback Kristian Fulton and freshman sensation Derek Stingley. So while this unit played in the shadow of the offense, they were also in the top 10 in Passing Efficiency Defense.
Looking at the NCAA Football Championship betting odds that have been posted on this game, LSU is laying points:
LSU Tigers -5
Clemson Tigers +5
Over 66 points -110
Under 66 points -110
And remember that if you are a BetAnySports customer, you can take advantage of reduced juice. And that allows you to avoid having to lay the customary -110 on football. It is quite simply one of the best deals available anywhere in the sportsbook industry!
NCAA Football Championship – Can we make a case for Clemson?
There is unquestionably an argument to be made for Clemson. Coach Dabo Swinney has been playing the “underdog” theme, because he doesn’t think his team’s gotten enough respect. Well, he may have a point, and what a great underdog this team has been! Over their last eleven post-season games, Clemson has a 9-2 straight-up record. Incredibly, they have covered ten of those 11 games, and found themselves catching points in nine of them. When you consider that underdogs have covered the last six national championship games, this sets up as a pretty good situation for them.
For Swinney and the Clemson program, this is the opportunity to go after their third national championship in four years. And the other two, of course, came at the expense of Nick Saban and Alabama. Coming into this game, he has a lot of things going for him. One of them is Trevor Lawrence, who most NFL scouts considered to be a better prospect then Burrow. He is also spotless, with a 25-0 record as a starter. Lawrence has been able to stay away from the big mistakes, throwing 201 consecutive passes without an interception.
And for those who praise Burrow’s mobility, Lawrence turned on the jets against Ohio State with a 67-yard touchdown run. Later on he rallied his team on a 94-yard touchdown drive to provide the winning margin in the 29-23 win.
NCAA Football Championship – Experience counts
All told, Clemson has won 29 consecutive games. And with this experience on the biggest stage, not to mention the continuity on the coaching staff, you could reasonably give this team a bit of a coaching edge. That, of course, extends to defensive coordinator Brent Venables, ironically second to LSU’s Dave Aranda on the list highest-paid at his post in the country. You had better believe he will come up with a wrinkle or two to try to pull Burrow out of his comfort zone.
NCAA Football Championship – Introducing…..the better defense
Consider that Clemson is #2 in Total Defense and is at the top of the heap in Passing Efficiency Defense. You don’t get that way by NOT being able to make adjustments. And likewise, you don’t get there by NOT making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable with what they do. Venables has a great instrument for that in linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who literally plays about five different positions on the defense and was recognized with the Butkus Award (nation’s top linebacker).
NCAA Football Championship – Is Burrow “all that”?
Frankly, Burrow’s range might be a little limited. Yes, we have seen him throw the deep ball. But if you watch him closely, you have not seen him hit a lot of receivers in stride on those passes. And he has also not necessarily been a guy who drops back, plants his foot and delivers bullets all over the field. So Joe Namath or John Elway he is not. He is very good working within Joe Brady’s system, and that entails quick passes that usually travel ten yards or less in the air past the line of scrimmage. That is, frankly what he’s best at.
NCAA Football Championship – What LSU’s strategy might be
Clemson only allowed 18 touchdowns from scrimmage over the entire season (nine of them through the air). And they were among the nation’s best in preventing big pass plays (11th in the “explosiveness” metric). So it wouldn’t surprise us if they made sure all of these Burrow completions stayed in front of them and then met receivers with hard contact. This is somewhat similar to the tactic the Seattle Seahawks used some years ago when they beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 in the Super Bowl.
If they make LSU work its way down the field, they might be able to force Burrow into a mistake along the path. And we say that especially considering that some of those passes put up for grabs that may have succeeded against Oklahoma might not against this ball-hawking secondary (19 interceptions).We would not be shocked if Venable put a lot of defensive backs on the field,. That’s what Auburn did when it limited Burrow to 7.6 yards an attempt and ten yards a completion (in a tight 23-20 game).
On an overall basis, LSU’s defense may not measure up so favorably to Clemson’s. Travis Etienne (8.2 ypc) may come sharply into play here. And surprisingly, even with those secondary people, LSU’s defense – which gave up 39 touchdowns against the Division I squads it faced – was just 122nd among 130 teams in defending “passing explosiveness.” Lawrence does a better job of getting it down the field, and he has proven himself in the championship situation.
NCAA Football Championship – Value in the number
Finally, let’s talk about the number. Yesterday, I was writing a little about the perceived “value” some people might have seen in the line on the Houston-Kansas City game. The point was that I was ignoring those numbers in favor of the recognition that Houston had a horrible defense for a playoff team and a recent history (under Bill O’Brien) of choking in the playoffs.
We also discussed that Tennessee was a value play because at that moment it was a decidedly different team than it was a couple of months before. That change, naturally, was due to the presence of Ryan Tannehill and the explosive emergence of Derrick Henry.
Here, I think the public had an overreaction to the slaughter LSU laid on a defensively-challenged Oklahoma team which had a quarterback (Jalen Hurts) who could not challenge their secondary down the field. And they may have seen Clemson’s victory over Ohio State as “lucky” because of a couple of controversial calls. What they DIDN’T bother to see was the Clemson had the wherewithal to come back from a 16-0 deficit, holding the Buckeyes to just one score the rest of the way. That’s actually more impressive. And don’t confuse Lawrence with Hurts or the Clemson D with the Oklahoma D.
You’ve got value in this number. We could say we love Clemson in this matchup, maybe even enough to throw something on the money line (+170). That’s what we’re doing in WagerWAR.
BetAnySports keeps you occupied for the big title game, with reduced juice for better odds, not to mention an avalanche of props, and Sports Betting Ultra, which enables real-time wagering… There are plenty of ways to open up an account; use your debit or credit card, person-to-person transfers or the virtual currency of Bitcoin, which is fast and easy with their automated system, and NEVER incurs a transaction fee!
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