Two sets of Tigers remain, but only one will claim the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship.
The No. 1 LSU Tigers made short work of the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners in the Peach Bowl, the first of two CFP semifinal matchups Saturday night. The Tigers toppled the Sooners 63-28 to remain undefeated and secure their spot in what will essentially be a home game on Jan. 13 in New Orleans.
The No. 3 Clemson Tigers had to orchestrate a four-play, 94-yard touchdown drive with under three minutes remaining in order to move past the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence finding running back Travis Etienne for 34 yards and the score to put Clemson up 29-23 after a successful two-point conversion. Ohio State's fate was sealed when Nolan Turner intercepted Justin Fields in the end zone with 37 seconds left in regulation.
Now, two 14-0 squads will clash at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to decide a champion.
Below is more information on the title game.
Date: Jan. 13, 2020
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans
Watch: ESPN or online with WatchESPN
Courtesy of NCAA.com
No. 3 Clemson Tigers vs. No. 1 LSU Tigers (-3.5)
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
No. 1 LSU Tigers Look Unbeatable
The No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners were utterly overwhelmed by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow and the LSU offense in the Peach Bowl:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
LSU set multiple records in its victory. Joe Burrow became the 1st player in FBS history to be responsible for 8 TD in bowl game. Justin Jefferson’s 4 Rec TD are tied for the most in a FBS bowl game. @LSUFootball's 63 points are tied for the most in a bowl game in SEC history. https://t.co/fQYCAPofrP
It should not have come as a surprise to anybody paying attention to Burrow and the Tigers throughout the regular season.
Burrow entered the College Football Playoff having thrown for 4,715 yards, 48 touchdowns and six interceptions on a 77.9 completion percentage. The senior is on pace to set the NCAA all-time record for the highest completion percentage in a single season while already owning the new single-season SEC records for passing yards and touchdowns.
It's important to note, too, that Oklahoma entered the semifinal ranked second in total offense and sixth in scoring offense. Yet, LSU's 32nd-ranked defense handled Oklahoma with what seemed to be relative ease. Jalen Hurts, the Heisman runner-up to Burrow, finished with 217 yards and one interception plus 43 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns.
The Tigers offense has not had an off game this year. Opponents go into a game against LSU presumably expecting a shootout. But if the defense can complement as effectively as it did in the Peach Bowl, it's hard to imagine any outcome other than the Tigers being the last team standing on Jan. 13.
No. 3 Clemson Tigers Remind Everyone They're Defending Champs
Clemson has won 29 straight games, but it still needs one more to become a back-to-back champion.
Burrow will remain the predominant storyline, and rightfully so, but Lawrence reminded everybody against Ohio State why he was all the rage as a true freshman leading a championship squad last season:
Another crucial development will be just how much of an edge Clemson will have at running back with a fully healthy Etienne, as LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire tallied just 14 yards on two carries against Oklahoma. The LSU junior running back has been nursing a hamstring injury suffered in practice earlier this week.
LSU still managed to rush for 160 yards, led by 89 yards from freshman back Chris Curry, but Etienne was a game-changer for Clemson with a record-setting 36 yards and one touchdown as a rusher paired with 98 yards and two touchdowns on three catches:
On a more macro level, the knock on Clemson this season had been its weak schedule. Clemson's biggest challenge was No. 24 Virginia in the ACC Championship Game—a game won 62-17—until running into Ohio State.
The Buckeyes led by as many as 16 points Saturday night, and Clemson's comeback was the second-largest in CFP semifinal or title game history, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
In other words, it can no longer be said that Clemson skated to the title game.
And it is definitely in for a fight against LSU.