College football will come to an end on Monday, January 13th. LSU, as expected is in the championship. Their opponent Clemson surprised many en route to the title.
Questions surrounded Clemson whether this was truly a great team, or if it was a shell of its former self that sent much of its defense to the NFL. Clemson went virtually unchallenged this season winning a weak ACC, however, it did have a concerning scare at North Carolina.
LSU and Clemson aren’t the only schools playing for a championship.
NCAA’s official Div. 1 Champion will be crowned this weekend, and it won’t be a battle of Tigers. North Dakota State and James Madison will fight for the FCS Championship. Both schools survived a true playoff that included nine conference champions, and many powerful runner-ups. NDSU and JMU have combined to win the last eight FCS Championships.
FCS Championship: No. 1 North Dakota State vs. No. 2 James Madison at Toyota Stadium
North Dakota State is aiming to win its 37th straight game, more importantly, its third straight title, and eighth in the last nine years. James Madison is no stranger to the spotlight. James Madison bolstered a 14-1 record with its only loss coming from a fourth-quarter surge at FBS West Virginia. Expect a grinding battle in the trenches, as the Dukes possess the No. 1 total defense, and the Bison are not far behind at No. 2. NDSU is going to try to impose its will running the ball, while its secondary sticks like glue to JMU receivers.
The difference will come late…
As both defenses tire, Pittsburgh transfer quarterback Ben DiNucci will take over much like another famous former Pitt transfer QB did at the FCS level. Remember Joe Flacco? DiNucci has only thrown five interceptions this season and is connecting on 71% of his passes. He will throw his receivers open as the Bison secondary tires. When the Bison bring pressure, he can escape and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and has 560 yards rushing.
Prediction: James Madison 27, North Dakota State 23
FBS Championship: No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 1 LSU at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Clemson continues to find ways to win. They looked outmatched against Ohio State early, however, fought back to win. Cases can be made why either team will win, and if played 10 times, both teams might win five. LSU’s offense is No. 2 in scoring, while Clemson’s total defense is No. 2. Eventually, something has to crack, and that something will be the LSU defense.
LSU might be playing close to home but…
Clemson has Championship experience. This is its fourth championship appearance in the playoff era. Last year, Alabama was a heavy favorite against the Tigers, however, Clemson won in blowout fashion 44-16. Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney is a great halftime adjuster, and much like against Ohio State in the semifinals, if LSU can’t put Clemson away early, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will lead a comeback against a vulnerable LSU defense.
Prediction: Clemson 28, LSU 27