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Live#LSU vs. Clemson odds, line: 2020 National Championship Game picks, predictions by advanced model on 8–2 roll.Leading a Division I program into the national championship and coming away with a win is what Burrow dreamed of and while LSU was never the school Burrow pictured growing up, he sure is grateful for it now.
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“This has been the motivation since we started in January, from the moment we walked off the Fiesta Bowl field last year,” Burrow said. “This is what we wanted, which is why we haven’t celebrated a lot of wins, because this is the one we wanted. This is what we’ve been working for.”
On Monday night, Burrow and the rest of this unforgettable 2019 LSU team will take the field for the final time. Here are a few players to keep an eye on.The easy cop-out answer but it’s the last time Burrow will wear an LSU jersey and given the unforgettable performance he’s put on this year, everyone will be watching.
There aren’t many more superlatives to describe Burrow and what he’s done this year that haven’t already been articulated. His 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns and 77.6% completion percentage this season is simply one for the ages.
The question that’s been the topic of fun conversation for many over the last few weeks is whether this will go down as the greatest season by a quarterback of all time. Burrow must finish this thing off first but if he does, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t, or at the very least, be in the conversation.
“I’ve never been around a player like Joe, and obviously he’s very talented and he’s a leader, but day in and day out, he’s the same guy,” coach Ed Orgeron said. “Very focused, focused on the task at hand. It’s about execution and winning and being great. Last game he threw, what, eight touchdowns, and he wasn’t satisfied. I mean, that’s him.”
He’s been fantastic in pressure situations and making in-game adjustments this season and will need to continue to do so against a Clemson defense predicated on switching and hiding coverages.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (junior running back)
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables called the junior running back the “heart and soul” of the LSU offense during media day. Orgeron added that when Edwards-Helaire is out of the lineup, the offense becomes more predictable.
On Monday night, Edwards-Helaire will be an x-factor for the LSU offense after receiving just two carries in the Peach Bowl win over Oklahoma while he was nursing a hamstring injury suffered in practice.
“I mean, he’s what makes the offense go because teams really have to decide if they’re going to cover Clyde with their Mike linebacker, if they’re going to a safety,” Burrow said. “He can run through the tackle. He can run outside. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. I know where Clyde is going to be 100% of the time. If everything is covered downfield, I just have a feeling I know where Clyde is going to be, in the flat right over the ball, left flat, behind the line of scrimmage. If I get in trouble, I just dump it down to Clyde.”
Burrow makes a great point in the way Edwards-Helaire is utilized as a lifeline of sorts if he can’t find anything downfield. In addition to his 1,304 rushing yards, Edwards-Helaire has 50 receptions for 399 yards on the season, third most on the team. In LSU’s win over Alabama, it was the pass catching ability from him that really saved the game in the fourth quarter as the Crimson Tide made a late push.
Establishing the run early will be important, particularly if Clemson decides to drop seven guys in pass protection. But don’t forget the importance of using Edwards-Helaire through the air either.
Thaddeus Moss (junior tight end)
Moss has been another one of those unexpected heroes in 2019 after having to sit out the 2017 season due to transfer rules and the 2018 season because of a foot injury. Nobody knew what to expect from Moss after not playing in a game for three years but, like most in the LSU offense this season, he broke records.
The junior thus far has hauled in 42 passes for 534 yards, both school records, and two touchdowns. But it’s his ability to block in both the pass and run game that makes him such a special part in this offense. Blocking tight ends are nothing new for this offense of course but with his added catching threat, it gives Burrow as many as five weapons on a given play.
Only time will tell how Clemson decides to cover the Tigers but with five legit weapons to use, there’s a solid chance Moss could be in some one-on-one and zone situations with a linebacker.
“I think what Thad does is rare. He’s super smart and understands the timing and spacing of zone coverage, understanding where he is on progressions,” Burrow said. “That’s something that you don’t see a lot in college football players.”
Michael Divinity (senior linebacker)
After a suspension forced him to miss most of the SEC schedule, senior outside linebacker and team leader in sacks in 2018 Michael Divinity is eligible and will play against Clemson.
Divinity had the option to start preparing for the NFL draft after his initial suspension but decided to stay with the program from afar by practicing with the team until his suspension was lifted.
“Mike is going to help us, especially in pass rush situations. Now, there’s some times, a certain situation he could be on the field on 1st down,” Orgeron said. “It all depends what personnel grouping we get, but Mike is a very good player, a very good pass rusher. He brings energy to the football team. I want to give Mike credit for sticking with it. He had to take a couple of games off. He had the opportunity, he could have left to get ready for the NFL. He practiced with the team every day. He did the thing he was supposed to, and now he’s playing in the championship game.”
Orgeron said last week that Divinity would most likely start in dime packages where he can be used as a fourth lineman on the defensive front. We’ll see just how much he will be used but this is a player coming into 2019 who was viewed as one of the best on the defense. Adding him to the mix will be interesting.
Kristian Fulton (senior cornerback)
Kind of the forgotten man in the LSU secondary this year has been the senior who just simply doesn’t allow many big plays or catches. He doesn’t have the six interceptions of Derek Stingley or the national attention of a Grant Delpit, but Fulton has been sneakily great all season, primarily because he doesn’t get targeted.
According to Brody Miller of the Athletic, Fulton was targeted just 37 times leading into the Oklahoma game, a fair bit lower than Stingley’s 85 times.
Opposing quarterbacks have gone after Stingley on the outside or Kary Vincent in the slot all year. It’ll be important for Fulton and Stingley on the outside to keep their matchups in check.
Clemson features two dynamite receivers in Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins, who is averaging 20 yards per catch this season. If LSU plans on not getting in a shootout offensively with Trevor Lawrence and company, taking away or at the bare minimum, limiting the Clemson receiver production will play a major factor into who wins.
“They watch film, they look at tape, they have great receivers, man, those receivers are going to be a challenge,” Orgeron said. “Obviously we feel Derek is a phenomenal player, so is Kristian. Kristian is a great story. His family is right here from New Orleans. He competed, he was suspended, could not play. They fought the suspension, he came to practice every day. The suspension was let go, and he could play, and what a great story.”