The Clemson Tigers are in an interesting position heading into Monday’s CFP Championship Game against the LSU Tigers. Clemson has won 29 consecutive games, is the defending national champion, and yet have been faded from +3.5 all the way to +6.
But if you’re among those who think the hype surrounding those other cats is “Geauxing” over the top, and see the value in Clemson getting all those points, you’ll want to look at these prop and derivative picks for Monday’s matchup.
They’re all tied to aspects of the game vital to Clemson’s championship hopes. Good luck!
CLEMSON FIRST QUARTER MONEYLINE (+140)
Admittedly, I was worried about Clemson heading into the College Football Playoff. Sure, the Tigers numbers were staggering, but the competition level in the ACC was about as bad as it gets. And it can be hard in football to “flip the switch” against elite competition.
But to Dabo Swinney and Clemson’s credit, Ohio State punched the Tigers in the mouth, and they stood their ground and punched back, going down 16-0 before coming back to win.
This game sets up perfectly to play into Dabo’s “no one believes in us” motivational tactic (which his team seems to be buying into). Nearly everyone seems to be backing LSU, in what basically a home game for the Bayou Bengals. Despite the fact Clemson was won 29 straight games and is the defending national champion. And remember how that game started? Clemson scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes against Alabama and held a 31-17 lead at halftime.
The one thing Clemson has that LSU doesn’t is championship pedigree. Now, LSU has been so fantastic this season, they have never really been punched in the mouth to open a game. So, it would be interesting to see how they would respond if they went down by a score or two early. And if there is anyone that can come out swinging it’s Clemson.
I’m betting Dabo and defensive coordinator Brent Venables have something special cooked up to open this game and if Clemson wants to prove everyone wrong, it needs to get off to a good start. Love the value with Clemson on the first quarter moneyline.
LAWRENCE LONGEST COMPLETION OVER 50.5 YARDS
Clemson’s offense is the definition of high-octane. Their 46.5 points per game was fourth best in the country and have scored 14 touchdowns this season of 40 yards or more. They have some of the best skill position players in the country. And it all goes through quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The signal caller had a fantastic sophomore season, throwing for 3,172 yards with 34 touchdowns compared to just eight picks. And he loves to sling it downfield. His top four receivers all average more than 13.5 yards per reception, with Tee Higgins leading the way, going for a huge 20.8 yards per catch.
So, suffice to say, Lawrence loves to push the ball downfield. In fact, he has a completion of 50 yards or more in nine of Clemson’s 14 games this season. He has also completed a pass of greater than 50 yards in all three of his College Football Playoff games. And it’s not like you can’t get after LSU’s defense.
LSU has allowed 28 points or more six times this season, and have struggled to contain the better quarterbacks they have faced this season. Sam Ehlinger threw for 401 yards four touchdowns, Kyle Trask threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns and Tua Tagovailoa threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns.
Lawrence has an elite arm, and elite weapons. He will use both to complete a pass for more than 50 yards.
ETIENNE TO SCORE 2+ TOUCHDOWNS (+200)
Speaking of Lawrence’s weapons. Running back Travis Etienne is probably his best. While the Clemson offense runs through Lawrence, Etienne is probably the most important player. If he can get rolling, it could be a tough night for LSU.
The ACC Player of the Year rushed for 1,500 yards on just 182 attempts this season. That’s a whopping 8.2 yards per attempt! He also crossed the goal line 19 times this season. But what made Etienne so dangerous this season is that he evolved his game.
For instance, Ohio State did a good job of containing Etienne in the Fiesta Bowl, limiting him to just 36 yards on 10 carries. So, what did Clemson do? They got him involved in the passing game, where he hauled in three catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Which is something he has worked on all season.
After totaling just 135 receiving yards on 15 receptions in his first two seasons, Etienne caught 32 balls for 396 yards this year (including his yardage against the Buckeyes).
Simply put, if Clemson is in a position to win this matchup, it means Etienne had a big game. And Etienne seems to always show up in big games. Take him to score more than once in this matchup.
BURROW UNDER 375.5 PASSING YARDS
Everything positive said about Joe Burrow this season he has earned. He looks like he can make any throw at any time. His weapons are elite. His numbers are jaw dropping.
But luckily for us, that greatness is providing some betting value, because the Over/Under on his passing yards total is ridiculous. 375.5? Really? That’s insane and I’ll tell you why. First, everyone watching Joe Burrow is stunned by his numbers, bookmakers included. Two, this was definitely a down year for the SEC in terms of defense. And third, recency bias.
We all just say Burrow shred Oklahoma for 493 yards and seven touchdowns. So, we’re getting this elevated number, but let’s dive deeper, because that Sooners defense was downright terrible.
Burrow went Over that number five times this season. Two were against Big 12 opponents (Texas and Oklahoma), where defense is frowned upon. Two were against Vanderbilt and Mississippi, which rank 86th and 113th in passing defense respectively. And the other was Alabama.
Against comparable defenses to Clemson, Burrow was still excellent, just not otherworldly. Versus Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia, Burrow averaged 339 passing yards per game and Clemson arguably has the best defense he has seen all season.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is one of the most creative out there when it comes to getting pressure on quarterbacks. And Clemson has allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards just three times in the last 29 games and just once this season, in the Fiesta Bowl, giving up 320 to Justin Fields.
By no means are we saying Burrow won’t have a good game. But 375? We’re taking the Under all day!
ETIENNE TO WIN OFFENSIVE MVP (+1,300)
We’re just going to gush about Etienne a little more. Like we said, The Clemson back is at his best in the biggest games.
Etienne has played in five conference championship or College Football Playoff games over the past two years and in those games, he has 619 total yards and nine touchdowns (which also helps our Etienne to score 2+ TDs case). But the most impressive part about those numbers is that he is gaining nearly nine yards per touch. And he’s going to have a chance to make some big gains against this LSU defense.
They Bayou Bengals have also had their hands full with some runners this year.
Vanderbilt’s Keshawn Vaugh rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries and two scores, Auburn’s D.J. Williams ran for 130 yards on just 13 carries, and Alabama’s Najee Harris rumbled for 146 yards and a score on 19 carries. Lastly, Mississippi’s dual threat QB John Rhys Plumlee racked up 212 yards on 21 carries. And don’t give me the LSU turned it around against Georgia and Oklahoma argument. D’Andre Swift was hurt, and Oklahoma got down way to fast and had to abandon the run.
Etienne is going to have a great chance to succeed in this game, and if he gets two or even three scores and Clemson is able to pull off the upset, then Etienne to win Offensive MVP of this game is ridiculous value at +1,300.
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