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VSiN experts pick CFP champion

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January 12, 2020 10:43 AM
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In a national championship matchup with a surplus of star power, Louisiana State is a 5½-point favorite over Clemson on Monday night in New Orleans. It is expected to be the biggest-bet college football game in history.

The all-Tigers showdown in the Superdome features two teams with perfect records, two elite quarterbacks and one coach, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who owns two national championships. The other coach, LSU’s Ed Orgeron, has home-field advantage in Cajun country.

Joe Burrow, the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the next NFL draft, has 55 touchdown passes in 14 games for LSU. Trevor Lawrence, the presumed top pick in the 2021 draft, is 25-0 as a starter for defending champion Clemson. With offensive fireworks in the forecast, the total is 69½.

In a prediction poll of Vegas Stats & Information Network staff members, Las Vegas bookmakers and professional handicappers, 15 of 18 panelists picked Clemson to cover the spread, and 10 of 18 picked Clemson to win outright.

Gill Alexander, VSiN host: LSU 33-30

Clemson shows the heart of a champion and goes blow for blow with LSU for much of this one, even taking a lead into the break. But ultimately, Burrow and the LSU offense prove to be too much, capping a perfect season.

Danny Burke, VSiN producer, host: LSU 38-30

Have we seen LSU's offense slow down this season? Nope. And don't expect it to happen now. Clemson's defense can be dominant, but LSU is on another level. Burrow will cap off his magnificent year with a ring and a cover against the defending national champs.

Sean Cavanaugh, VSiN producer: Clemson 31-28

Clemson had the most talented team from start to finish this season and possesses the offensive weapons to match LSU’s offensive attack. The last team with the ball wins, and I think Lawrence leads the last drive to win it.

Chuck Esposito, Sunset Station sportsbook director: Clemson 35-34

In a battle of the nation’s two highest-paid defensive assistant coaches, I’ll take Clemson’s Brent Venables to keep Burrow out of the end zone late. Lawrence has never lost a game and stays perfect as Clemson wins back-to-back championships.

Brady Kannon, VSiN host: LSU 34-31

Much of Clemson's statistical success on defense was padded against weak competition. LSU's electrifying offense will eventually win the game despite the defense, coaching and championship pedigree of Clemson being very difficult to overcome. But I do believe that keeps the Orange & Purple Tigers inside the number.

Jay Kornegay, Westgate SuperBook VP: Clemson 35-31

LSU has home-field advantage, but Swinney will relish the underdog role once again. Dabo’s in-game adjustments will be the difference.

Steve Makinen, Point Spread Weekly editor: LSU 34-31

Prior to the CFP semifinals, I saw three teams at one level and a fourth, Oklahoma, clearly at a lesser level. Thus, I was a bit surprised to see a number for the title game as high as 5½. Clemson is on a terrific run, this season and for many years, going 10-1 ATS in its last 11 bowl games, including six outright upsets. Lawrence has not lost a game, and Clemson has not allowed more than 20 points all season. I just can’t see LSU winning easily. My numbers say closer to a three-point difference.

Bruce Marshall, The Gold Sheet editor: Clemson 34-31

The spread is an overreaction to LSU’s blowout of Oklahoma, especially since Clemson pulling itself out of the abyss vs. Ohio State was arguably more impressive. A default recommendation on Dabo in the bowls/playoffs is not the worst idea.

Tony Miller, Golden Nugget sportsbook VP: LSU 42-31

Burrow leads the high-powered LSU offense by throwing six touchdowns and stakes his claim as the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Mitch Moss, VSiN host: LSU 30-27

Nothing will surprise me in this game. I can see any potential outcome getting there. With that in mind, this game was much closer to the pick/field-goal range before the semifinals. Give me the champs plus the points.

Brent Musburger, VSiN host, managing editor: LSU 45-38

What a matchup. This year’s Heisman winner and NFL’s top draft pick (Burrow) vs. next year’s Heisman winner and NFL’s top pick (Lawrence). SEC rules!

Jeff Parles, VSiN producer, host: Clemson 42-41

Burrow and Lawrence throw four touchdowns apiece, and both look every bit the future No. 1 picks they will be, but Lawrence will get the last laugh. A late Lawrence-to-Justyn Ross connection will get it done for Clemson.

Wes Reynolds, VSiN: Clemson 34-31

Swinney is a master at playing the disrespect card even though Clemson is never an underdog. Well, that’s the case now, and you can’t help but think with the experience of being here before that Swinney and Lawrence could be to Orgeron and Burrow what Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were to Sean McVay and Jared Goff in last year’s Super Bowl.

Paul Stone, professional handicapper: Clemson 38-34

LSU aims to cap a storybook season by winning the national title on home soil, but Clemson and Lawrence bask on the big stage in “The Big Easy” and extend their winning streak to 30 games.

Dave Tuley, VSiN senior reporter: Clemson 30-27

All due respect to what LSU and Burrow have done, but to be the champ you have to beat the champ, and I still have Clemson as the better team and will gladly take the generous points (just like last year against Alabama). Except for the close call vs. North Carolina, Clemson has actually been more dominant and won the much tougher national semifinal. I also trust Swinney over Orgeron in a close game.

Jonathan Von Tobel, VSiN host: Clemson 33-30

LSU has had a fantastic season, but Clemson is just the better team. Clemson holds the advantage in almost every category, including three key areas: head coach, quarterback and defense. Dabo’s Tigers get their third title in four years.

Robert Walker, USBookmaking: LSU 35-31

I think LSU is the best team in the country, but there is some value with Clemson after the semifinal games. I had LSU as a 3-point favorite prior to that, and think this one will go down to the wire.

Matt Youmans, VSiN editor, host: Clemson 35-34

Burrow made it look too easy against Oklahoma and several overrated SEC defenses. The Clemson coaches are too good, and they have plenty of time to prepare for the LSU offense. I’m not betting against a team that has won 29 in a row and routed Alabama 44-16 last year.

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