Clemson vs. LSU: Latest Comments Ahead of CFP National Championship 2020

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 11: <<enter caption here>> during media day for the College Football Playoff National Championshipon January 11, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney has instilled an underdog mentality in his squad ahead of the College Football Playoff National Championship against the LSU Tigers.

With LSU playing in front of a home crowd in New Orleans, Swinney is comparing Monday's situation to one of the most famous cinematic underdogs, Rocky Balboa, as Clemson offensive tackle Tremayne Anchrum told ESPN's college football crew.

"He loves to compare us to Rocky movies. I guess he's just the biggest Rocky fan. He says going to Louisiana is like going to Russia and we're playing Drago," Anchrum said.

"He'll say something like Drago is like Burrow and we gotta be Rocky. We gotta train in Russia. We gotta fight in Russia."

When LSU head coach Ed Orgeron was asked about the comparison, he told reporters he was not aware of the Rocky franchise.

"I couldn't even tell you who those two guys are to be honest with you," Orgeron said. "But I just know this, that it's going to be an emotional night when we do run out of the tunnel. I believe it's going to be a home-field advantage. But we have to take care of it."

Whether that is true or just posturing by Orgeron, the second part of his comment is likely factual.

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LSU will be playing for the national championship as the No. 1 seed and in front of a raucous home crowd, but it is facing its toughest matchup of the season against the reigning national champion.

Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger made it known Saturday that Clemson's Brent Venables is the best defensive coordinator LSU will have faced this campaign.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is expected to be involved in an individual duel with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow for most of the contest.

Lawrence, who could be the favorite to win the 2020 Heisman, delivered plenty of praise for his counterpart to reporters but also noted the game is not just about the two signal-callers:

"Obviously what he's done speaks for itself. Anyone that's watched him knows he is a special player. ... People get a little too caught up in me versus him. It's us versus them, as far as the team. The best team is going to win the game. He's a great player and obviously we're both going to impact the game, but at the end of the day, the best team is going to win."

Clemson is making its fourth national championship appearance in the last five seasons.

One of Swinney's main goals for the program is to maintain consistency, which he noted to the Greenville News' Brad Senkiw:

"We strive for consistency in everything that we do. I think we have been able to achieve that. That was really my No. 1 goal when I got the job, was to be able to create a consistent program. Consistent on the field, consistent academically, consistent in recruiting, consistent in our development, consistent with our staff, you name it."

The ACC champion has allowed the fewest points per game in the FBS and did enough to contain the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl to remain in the contest despite offensive struggles.

Even though Clemson's defense has impressed all season, LSU wide receiver Thaddeus Moss told reporters "they don't have anybody on film who stands out."

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons is No. 5 on the latest big board from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, which is 10 spots higher than any LSU defensive player.

Prior to the Fiesta Bowl, Clemson gave up 75 points in an eight-game stretch that concluded with the ACC Championship Game.

LSU's defense performed better as the season went on, as it gave up 37 points in its final three games before the College Football Playoff.

The key for both units will be containing high-powered offenses that rank first and third in the FBS in total yards per game, and whichever unit comes up with a few stops may end up winning the contest for its team.

             

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.