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This will be a game to watch as it has become a perfect storm from a betting point of view. It is currently a lopsided affair with both sharp and public money backing LSU. Sharp money came in early at the 3.5 to 4 line values and has been bolstered by the public money piling on at the 4 and 4.5 values pushing the current line to LSU -5. The bet count is currently 5-to-1 in favor of LSU and showing no signs of slowing down. The money wagered is currently a staggering 8-to-1 in favor of LSU. This line could possibly see some more movement late.
Reason to watch: Because if the BCS were more of an open-market system -- as it will be following the 2014 season -- these two would be playing in a bigger-money bowl. The Cotton Bowl (Texas A&M-Oklahoma) and this game are the two best matchups outside the BCS, and this one has the potential to be the most fun. Clemson's offense won't hang its usual one million points on LSU's excellent defense, but Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd -- the reigning ACC player of the year -- has the pocket smarts and mobility to keep LSU's horde of swamp monsters at bay long enough to throw to Sammy Watkins and Nuke Hopkins. Meanwhile, Clemson's defense is shaky enough to turn LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger into Dan Marino for a night. Besides, Mettenberger is better than his reputation indicates. His attempts-to-interceptions ratio of 55-to-1 is the best in LSU history for any quarterback with more than 300 attempts.
Clemson is trying to reach 11 wins for only the fourth time in school history and the first time since a 12-0 finish in its 1981 national championship season. LSU, which one year ago was preparing for the national championship game, is hoping for a top-five finish and to close with four straight wins after its 21-17 loss to Alabama on Nov. 3.
Frank Schwab: LSU 28, Clemson 21
It's hard for me to forget how uncompetitive Clemson was in its two games this year against elite opponents. Florida State beat Clemson easily, but the game that's really a red flag is the Tigers' loss to South Carolina. In a rivalry game, at home against the Gamecocks' backup quarterback, Clemson got pounded by a more physical SEC team. LSU can do the same.
Graham Watson: LSU 24, Clemson 21
Clemson has a fantastic offense, but it’s going to have a tough time against its second consecutive SEC defense (it only had 17 points against South Carolina – a season low). While I don’t see Mettenberger lighting it up, he’ll do enough to get LSU a close win.
LSU freshman cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins, who have had prominent roles since the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu before the season, will be challenged to contain DeAndre Hopkins, who is second in the nation with 16 TD catches, and Sammy Watkins. Mills, the starter, and Collins, who plays on passing downs, have combined for four interceptions. LSU QB Tajh Boyd has 34 TD passes, taking advantage of his fast receivers
This will be fascinating stuff no matter who has the ball.
What an enormous statement Clemson can make if its ridiculously talented, explosive offense wins the day against LSU’s dynamite defense. It could happen, too. There’s great talent in LSU’s front—Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo et al.—but Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is great at buying extra time with his feet, and LSU’s pass rush has been less than dominant this season. (Although, as Boyd’s offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, points out, LSU was able to pressure Johnny Manziel with a three-man rush.)
If Boyd has time to throw, how much downfield success will DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins have? Has LSU had to deal with a receiving duo like Hopkins and Watkins in the SEC? Don’t think so.
“I think we have the best receivers in the country,” Clemson center Dalton Freeman said. “We have the home-run threat every time we touch the ball.”