Clemson Tigers most important matchups for the National Championship Game

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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It seems like deja vu for the Clemson Tigers, but that could be a good thing. The orange and white Tigers face the purple and gold Tigers, a team that seems destined to win with their Heisman Trophy quarterback. LSU’s been tested, but no one’s been able to keep the Tigers down long enough. It’s a tough task for Clemson, but they have the quarterback and defense that can swing momentum in their favor.

Clemson D-Line vs. LSU O-Line

If not for a J.K. Dobbins injury, there’s a good chance Clemson isn’t playing for a national championship. The Ohio State running back gashed the Tigers early on in the Fiesta Bowl, and Clemson must establish a dominant front against LSU. While the Tigers in purple and gold don’t run the ball as much as Ohio State, they’re still more than capable of running the football. It isn’t the dominant front four from last year’s team, but there’s talent to make an impact on the game.

Even if LSU doesn’t dominate running the ball, they’ve been able to give Joe Burrow time to throw the football at an elite level. Clemson must get pressure on him to change the momentum in their favor. Burrow’s not rattled by pressure, but it at least would force him to get rid of the ball earlier than he wants or even throw it away. It must happen, so there’s a lot of pressure on this group to produce.

Trevor Lawrence vs. Joe Burrow

We’ve seen what Trevor Lawrence can do when entering a game as the underdog. Last year, Tua Tagovailoa had the nation’s attention, but it was Lawrence who stole the spotlight. Once again, all eyes are on someone else. Joe Burrow’s incredible season is worth commending, but it’s familiar territory for Clemson’s sophomore quarterback.

Even this year, Lawrence was doubted when he struggled early in the season. He threw 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions through the first seven games, and all he did was silence the doubters. Since then, he’s thrown 22 touchdowns with zero interceptions, and put his team in position to win a second consecutive national championship. It’s a position he knows how to navigate, and he’s shown the pressure isn’t too much. If Lawrence outshines Burrow, this gets interesting.

No one’s been able to make Joe Burrow look bad, and it’s doubtful the Clemson Tigers are the first this year. But they can do things to give themselves a chance. They have the quarterback who knows how to embrace the underdog role and win a big game, but they need better play from their defensive front. They’ll enter as underdogs once again, but that’s nothing new to this team.

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