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The National Championship is up for grabs when the LSU Tigers and Clemson Tigers go head-to-head on Monday night, and our resident American Football expert has been picking out some of his favourite bets for this huge clash at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Banker Bet: LSU Tigers to lead at half-time & win @ EVS bet365
The LSU Tigers lived up to their #1 ranking in sensational fashion as they swept aside Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl – and they only needed 30 minutes of football to do it. The Tigers made a roaring start to the game by putting up 21 points in the first quarter and then topped that with 28 more in the second as they opened up a 49-14 lead before the break. They will be looking to make another fast start in this one and while I do not expect them to blow away this Clemson defense here – this defensive unit will be the best they have faced this season – I do expect LSU to be in front when the teams head into the locker room for the break. That has been the case in all but two of the Tigers’ games so far this season. The question then is, can they complete the job in the second half?
Opponents Clemson have become National Championship game fixtures under Dabo Swinney – this is their fourth appearance in this season-ending game in the past five years. They have gone 2-1 under Swinney in the big one, avenging a 2016 defeat at the hands of Alabama by beating the Crimson Tide in both 2018 and 2019, and they have the experience and talent on both sides of the football that can really challenge LSU here. However, I find it almost impossible to go against and LSU team who have earned and thoroughly deserve their #1 ranking. There is that chance that they could freeze under the bright lights, but given how quarterback Joe Burrow and his team have performed over the course of the season everything points to that not happening. Therefore my ‘Banker Bet’ has to be to back LSU to lead at half-time and then go on to win the game.
First Touchdown Scorer: Justin Jefferson (LSU Tigers) @ 10/1 bet365
Given the depth of offensive talent on show we are spoiled for choice in this one. LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has overcome the hamstring injury that limited him against Oklahoma and therefore it is no real surprise to see the bookmakers making him the joint favourite to score the first touchdown alongside Clemson counterpart Travis Etienne. However, I am expecting Joe Burrow to air it out once again after that sensational showing against Oklahoma that saw him throw seven TDs in the first half to tie several NCAA records.
Ja’Marr Chase may have been led the team in receiving yards this season, but there can be no doubts about who Burrow’s favourite target is. Justin Jefferson has racked up 102 receptions for 1,434 yards and 18 touchdowns over the course of this season, and he benefited more than anyone else in that demolition of Oklahoma, hauling in 14 catches for 227 yards and four touchdowns. Clemson will want to pay close attention to him here, but I just do not see them stopping him and I thoroughly expect Jefferson to find the endzone on Monday night. And given his statistics, he could well be the man who provides the game’s first touchdown.
Bold Prediction: Justin Jefferson to score anytime & LSU Tigers to win by 1-6 points @ 45/1 bet365
Given my previous two predictions it will come as no surprise that my bold prediction involves an LSU tigers win and a score for Justin Jefferson. With 102 receptions and 18 touchdowns for the season so far, Jefferson is a leading candidate to score at some point in the National Championship game. Therefore combining him scoring with an LSU win offers bags of appeal.
The question is, how do we back LSU to win? For me it is taking them to win this encounter by 1-6 points. While they did destroy Oklahoma last time out, this Clemson team should provide a much tougher challenge. They boast the best defense that LSU will have seen all season and offensively they have the talent that can put plenty of points on the board to keep them in the game throughout. Ultimately LSU will have a little too much for them and that will translate into Burrow & Co. winning this by no more than six points.