Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Two Tigers walk into a championship game . . .
It was bound to happen.
If we go back to 2007 and include next Monday’s FBS title game, we’ll find that nine of the teams in those 13 most-recent championship games are Tigers. But, not just any Tigers. They are all from the Southeast and, in fact, from just three schools, Clemson (four times), LSU (three times), and Auburn (twice).
This year’s match between Clemson (14-0) and LSU (14-0) brings together two teams with better metrics in our rating Index than any prior FBS champion, so no matter which team wins, it will be deserving. And don’t be alarmed if players seem overly delirious. It might be they’ve inhaled too much self-achievement or perhaps fumes of a well-Windexed trophy or something. But hey, it’s all just part of the college experience.
Like last year, our system is bucking the oddsmakers. They prefer LSU by 5.5 but performance metrics in our Index point to a 30-28 Clemson advantage.
The majority of Clemson’s positive performance trends in our system occurred in the last half of the season while LSU started the season fast but, despite some fantastic scores, actually only produced positive performance metrics in just two of its last eight games.
And, there is more.
Defensive performances between these two have been markedly different.
LSU yielded more than 35 points to three unranked teams (Texas, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi) plus another 41 to Alabama whereas Clemson never gave up more than 23 (Ohio State) and, with the exception of North Carolina, held all twelve of its other rivals to 17 or less. Yes, LSU played a tougher schedule but the difference in defenses seems arguably greater than the difference in opponents.
This season was the first time our system missed on a semifinal prediction. It told us that Ohio State would beat defending champion Clemson, but that isn’t what happened because the Tigers of CU refused to capitulate. But then, not capitulating is what really good teams do. I mean, after all, they’re Tigers, not Trojans.
While many unworthy teams were rewarded for unremarkable seasons, these two finalists combine for the highest-rated title game in the past six years so it should be fun, exciting, and well played.
Enjoy your off-season and if you talk to a Trojan grad, do what we do.