Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:30 PM EST
College Football Playoff National Championship
Fiesta Bowl - Mercedes-Benz Superdome - New Orleans, LA
For NITRO Subscribers, the game is on ESPN in the USA/CAN Sports folder
LSU -5 -103 over Clemson
8:00 PM EST. The knee-jerk reaction in this market would be taking the points but we can’t help but trust that backing the defending National Champions in this spot simply looks too good to be true, on the surface that is. After all, it was just last year when the Tigers closed at the same price (+5½) and went onto win their second National Championship in three years in a 44-16 rout of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Combine last year’s result with the fact that the Tigers come into this game with an 11-3 ATS record on the season backed by an insane 29-game winning streak and one can fully understand where this market is coming from. There are a few other trends and plotlines that also promote the stock of Clemson in this spot. Since the College Football Playoff came into existence, the #1 seed in the tournament has never hoisted the hardware (that would be LSU). Moreover, the underdog in the National Championship Game has never failed to cover either. In fact, the pooch has staged upsets in three of the five preceding National Championship Games. Two of those were orchestrated by Clemson. That’s great fodder for pick sellers but it doesn’t pinpoint what we’re after. VALUE and we promise you, win or lose, that the Bayou Bengals are underpriced here in a big way.
LSU’s résumé speaks for itself. This is a football team that has never shied away from elite competition. If anything, they embraced it and thrived in the process. During the regular season, LSU defeated four top-10 outfits, two of which were on the road, including Alabama where they had not lost a home game in 31 previous matches. Louisiana State would follow that victory up with a thumping of the #4 Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship where they exposed perhaps the best defense in America. In a prime letdown spot thereafter in the first-round of the CFP, LSU boat-raced Oklahoma in a 63-28 beatdown and Heisman Winner Joe Burrow broke all kinds of records while he did so.
On the flipside, Clemson is fortunate to be in the CFP National Championship Game after Ohio State beat itself. The Tigers had to overcome a 16-point deficit to get here and even then, there was a lot of controversy in the mechanics of Clemson’s staged comeback. Prior to being statistically beaten badly by OSU, who was Clemson’s biggest win in 2019? A five-loss Virginia team that barely beat Georgia Tech? A Wake Forest club that was playing without their best offensive weapons? A Texas A&M squad that Clemson had the luxury of playing at home early in September? Dabo Swinney has been scheduling games against nobodies for years and while we would never suggest that the Tigers are not a good team, this day, Dabo and the Tigers are going to pay for skewing their numbers weekly. This edition of the Tigers are not close to being as good as previous editions.
For Clemson, LSU is by far its biggest test of the season. For the Tigers, they have played better teams than Clemson more than once this season and destroyed them. The Tigers destroyed chumps because Dabo Swinney loves to run up scores. Dabo doesn’t want to win 38-3, he wants to win 68-3. We are strongly suggesting that the Tigers can win this game by multiple scores but we get them at massive discount because Clemson is Clemson, its stock is so high and this is considered to be a fair fight. It’s not. That equates to equity and we’ll help ourselves to that every single time.
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LSU -5 -103 (Risking 2.06 units - To Win: 2.00)