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College Football Playoff Championship 2019: Odds and Predictions for Matchups

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 9, 2019

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrate with teammates after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The prediction machine has shifted from trying to decipher which teams would make it into the College Football Player to analyzing how the four teams stack up against each other.

The undefeated No. 1 LSU Tigers will face off against the 12-1 No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. ET from Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

That will be followed up by the undefeated No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes clashing with the undefeated No. 3 Clemson Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl at 8 p.m. ET from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. 

Clemson has the added pressure of defending their 2019 CFP national title, won 44-16 over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Below is a look at odds and predictions for each CFP semifinal game.

            

Odds

No. 1 LSU Tigers (-13) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners; O/U 76

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 3 Clemson Tigers (-1.5); O/U 63.5

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

           

Predictions

No. 1 LSU Tigers vs. No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners 

LSU has looked every bit a 13-point favorite leading up to this game against Oklahoma.

The Tigers dominated the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs 37-10 in the SEC Championship Game behind 349 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions from Heisman Trophy favorite Joe Burrow. The game was never in doubt, which was the final straw in propelling them to the No. 1 seed:

Peter Burns @PeterBurnsESPN

Let’s say you thought that Ohio State & LSU both had a solid case for the #1 seed going into today There is no way that LSU dominating #4 Georgia in their home State wasn’t more impressive than Ohio State coming from behind to beat a now 3 loss team LSU #1 Ohio State #2

Aaron Torres @Aaron_Torres

LSU won at Alabama, against Georgia on a neutral, beat Auburn and Florida, and challenged themselves out of conference at Texas. I don't care if Ohio State wins by 100 tonight. There is ZERO argument for anyone other than LSU as the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff

Oklahoma wasn't nearly as impressive in the Big 12 Championship. The Sooners narrowly outlasted the No. 7 Baylor Bears 30-23 in overtime, all while Baylor was forced to use three different quarterbacks. 

The only quarterback OU cares about, though, is Jalen Hurts. The Sooners' chances to upset LSU will hinge on the graduate transfer quarterback. He threw for 3,634 yards, 32 touchdowns and seven interceptions to go with 1,255 yards and 18 touchdowns as a rusher—all career-best numbers.

"You have to have good quarterback play to get in the playoff and win it all," OU head coach Lincoln Riley said, according to the Associated Press. "Jalen had a very positive impact on our program. It's rather unique. We're not talking years. It's been months. It's been kind of fast and furious, but it's been very positive."

Riley's logic is spot-on. The problem for the Sooners, though, is that LSU has the best quarterback in all of college football this season. 

Burrow set SEC single-season records with 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns. He threw only six interceptions and posted a 77.9 completion percentage, an NCAA all-time record.

With Burrow and Hurts manning their respective offenses, the Peach Bowl figures to be a shootout. 

LSU's scoring defense ranks 27th in FBS, while Oklahoma ranks 50th. The Sooners (24th) edge the Tigers (32nd) in total defense. 

While OU has outlasted its opponents in all but one game this year, the Sooners' one loss came in a 48-41 shootout with unranked Kansas State. It goes without saying that the Tigers' offense is much more prolific and will be much harder to keep up with.

LSU has looked superior to every team it has faced through 13 games. Why would the 14th be any different? 

Prediction: LSU 48, OU 38

             

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 3 Clemson Tigers 

The Buckeyes showed vulnerability for the first time this season against No. 8 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

Wisconsin led 21-7 at halftime before Ohio State scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to win 34-21. 

The Tigers put on the opposite display in the ACC Championship, albeit against a lesser opponent in No. 24 Virginia. Nonetheless, Clemson destroyed Virginia 62-17. 

There were concerns of a sophomore slump for quarterback Trevor Lawrence when he began this season with five touchdowns and five interceptions through three games. However, Lawrence hasn't thrown a pick since Oct. 19 and has thrown 20 touchdowns in that span.

Lawrence looked as good against Virginia as he has all year, and the Tigers offense followed suit:

ACC Network @accnetwork

.@ClemsonFB made a statement in the ACC Championship 😤 Tee Higgins: 182 rec yds, 3 rec TDs *New ACC championship game records Trevor Lawrence: 4 pass TDs *New ACC championship game record Clemson defeated Virginia, 62-17 *The largest victory in ACC championship game history https://t.co/tHiwYghDCi

Ohio State sophomore quarterback Justin Fields has been exceptional, too, capped off by leading the Buckeyes' comeback against Wisconsin: 

PFF College @PFF_College

Justin Fields came on STRONG in the second-half for the Buckeyes as they took down the Badgers. https://t.co/cbVahw58FT

Overall in his first season as OSU's starter, Fields has 2,953 yards, 40 touchdowns and just one interception as well as 471 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rusher. Fields' 10 rushing touchdowns are second on the team to junior running back J.K. Dobbins' 19. 

Dobbins and Clemson junior running back Travis Etienne will likely set the tone for their respective teams. Etienne has 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. 

That said, as explosive as both offenses are, this could end up being a defensive struggle. Clemson has the top-ranked scoring defense (10.6 points per game) with Ohio State ranked third (12.5). 

The Buckeyes have the advantage of sporting junior defensive end Chase Young to pressure Lawrence. It can be stated that Lawrence has not faced a pass rusher as disruptive as Young yet this season. Young, the potential 2020 top overall pick, led the nation and set OSU's single-season record for sacks 16.5.

In fact, Young may just prove the difference.

Prediction: Ohio State 35, Clemson 31