College Football Preview: Clemson-LSU Tale of the Tape

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Another college football preview? Yes, another college football preview, although this comes ahead of a title game that some think has the potential to be the greatest since the Texas-USC classic that determined the 2005 champion.

If this one comes even remotely close to that Vince Young-fueled thriller? Sign me up.

WHO
No. 3 Clemson (14-0) vs. No. 1 LSU (14-0)

WHAT
The College Football Playoff National Championship Game

WHEN
8:00 p.m. ET (8:17 p.m. ET kickoff)

WHERE
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, Louisiana

WHY
Clemson: Beat Ohio State 29-23 in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl
LSU: Beat Oklahoma 63-28 in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Peach Bowl

HEAD COACHES
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (130-30 in 12 seasons with the Tigers; two national championships)
LSU’s Ed Orgeron (39-9 in four seasons with the Tigers, 55-36 overall)

STATISTICAL LEADERS
Clemson
Passing: Trevor Lawrence, 250-370 (67.6%), 3,431 yards, 36 touchdowns, eight interceptions, sacked 15 times
Rushing: Travis Etienne, 1,536 yards, 18 touchdowns
Receiving: Justyn Ross, 61 receptions; Tee Higgins, 1,115 yards, 13 touchdowns
Punt returns: Amari Rodgers, 9.4 yards per on 16 returns
Kick returns: Joseph Ngata, 23.2 yards per on 14 returns
Punting: Will Spiers, 42.8 yards per, 15 of 44 punts inside the 20
Kicking: B.T. Potter, 12-20 field goals, long of 51; 77-77 extra points
Tackles: James Skalski, 99
Tackles for loss: Isaiah Simmons, 14
Sacks: Simmons, seven
QB Hits: Simmons, 14
Interceptions: Tanner Muse, four
Passes breakups: K’Von Wallace, 10

LSU
Passing: Joe Burrow, 371-478 (77.6%), 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns, six interceptions, sacked 29 times
Rushing: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 1,304 yards, 16 touchdowns
Receiving: Justin Jefferson, 102 receptions; Ja'Marr Chase, 1,559 yards; Chase and Jefferson, 18 touchdowns
Punt returns: Derek Stingley Jr., 9.73 per on 15 returns; Trey Palmer, Micah Baskerville, one touchdown each
Kick returns: Edwards-Helaire, 21.4 per on 10 returns
Punting: Zach Von Rosenberg, 42.5 yards per, 18 of 40 inside the 20
Kicking: Cade York, 21-26 field goals, long of 52; 83-87 extra points
Tackles: Jacob Phillips, 105
Tackles for loss: K’Lavon Chaisson, 13½
Sacks: Chaisson, 6½
QB Hits: Chaisson, six
Interceptions: Stingley Jr., six
Passes breakups: Stingly Jr., 15

STATISTICAL MATCHUPS

  • LSU’s 60th-ranked rush offense (167 ypg) vs. Clemson’s 15th-ranked run defense (112.6 ypg)
  • Clemson’s 11th-ranked rush offense (246.1 ypg) vs. Alabama’s 20th-ranked run defense (118 ypg)
  • LSU’s 2nd-ranked pass offense (397.2 ypg) vs. Clemson’s top-ranked pass defense (151.5 ypg)
  • Clemson’s 19th-ranked pass offense (292.2 ypg) vs. LSU’s 56th-ranked pass defense (221.9 ypg)
  • LSU’s top-ranked scoring offense (48.9 ppg) vs. Clemson’s top-ranked scoring defense (11.5 ppg)
  • Clemson’s 4th-ranked scoring offense (45.3 ppg) vs. LSU’s 29th-ranked scoring defense (21.6 ppg)

COMMON OPPONENTS
Texas A&M
Clemson won 24-10 Sept. 7 in Clemson, LSU won 50-7 Nov. 30 in Baton Rouge.

LOSSES
None for either team as this will mark the second time in the six-year history of the College Football Playoff that two undefeated teams will be playing in the national championship game. This will, though, mark back-to-back years both teams have been undefeated.

STREAKS
Clemson — Won 29 straight (last loss: 24-6 to Alabama in a 2017 College Football Playoff semifinal)
LSU — Won 15 straight (last loss: 74-72 to Texas A&M in seven overtimes in 2018 regular-season finale)

PORTFOLIO
Wins vs. bowl teams: Clemson 9, LSU 10
Wins vs. current CFP Top 25 teams: Clemson 2, LSU 5
Wins in true road games: Clemson 5, LSU 5
Wins by 10-plus points: Clemson 12, LSU 11
Wins by 20-plus points: Clemson 11, LSU 10
Wins by 30-plus points: Clemson 11, LSU 6
Wins by 40-plus points: Clemson 6, LSU 3

THE LINE
Clemson, +6 (opened +5½)
Over/under, 69

Iowa State QB Re-al Mitchell latest to enter name into transfer portal

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The portal has claimed another name and Iowa State’s quarterback depth will suffer as a result.

Cyclones signal-caller Re-al Mitchell became the latest enter the NCAA Transfer Database this week and confirmed on social media that he was leaving Ames for another opportunity elsewhere.

The move is fairly unsurprising given that Mitchell arrived on campus in the same recruiting class as current starter Brock Purdy. With a pathway to significant playing time blocked by one of the best young QB’s in the sport, a ticket out of town seemed like it was coming sooner or later for the team’s No. 2 on the depth chart.

A dual-threat known for his speed, Mitchell was originally ranked as a three-star prospect coming out of high school who picked ISU over Arizona, Illinois, Kansas State, South Carolina and others. He wound up playing in six games under Matt Campbell over two seasons and threw for an even 100 yards and one touchdown.

A Southern California native, it’s possible a move back West could be in the cards for Mitchell. He appears to be insistent on playing under center but did see spot duty as a wide receiver during his stint in Ames.

Following the departure of Mitchell, Campbell will quite a bit of youth behind Purdy on the team’s depth chart. Freshman Aidan Bouman enrolled early for spring practice while fellow Class of 2020 QB and four-star recruit Hunter Dekkers will arrive later as they battle it out for backup reps. Iowa State opens the season at home against FCS South Dakota before heading to Kinnick Stadium to take on rival Iowa in Week 2.

Texas LB Ayodele Adeoye to miss spring practice with foot injury

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New Texas coordinator Chris Ash’s task at turning around the team’s defense got a tad bit harder on Saturday.

According to a release from the school, linebacker Ayodele Adeoye suffered a foot injury and will undergo surgery to correct it. While he is expected to be back in time for summer workouts, the upcoming trip under the knife will knock him out for all of spring practice in Austin.

Adeoye was a top recruit out of high school in 2018 but played in just four games and redshirted his first year on the Forty Acres. He turned into a regular starter (nine games) last season however and was fifth on the team in tackles (45) while recording an interception and 2.5 sacks.

With the redshirt sophomore out, the Longhorns depth this spring as they re-tool under Ash will certainly be tested. Fellow rising sophomore David Gbenda likely will take on an increased role based on the depth chart — though he might have to earn his way back after being sent home from UT’s Alamo Bowl win over Utah due to a violation of team rules.

Texas opens the 2020 season at home against USF and new head coach Jeff Scott before heading to Baton Rouge for a must-see game against reigning national champion LSU in Week 2.

Miami DL Scott Patchan enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has giveth for Miami football and it’s taken away.

Less than a week after Hurricanes got a big pickup in the form of Temple grad transfer DL Quincy Roche, the program learned that veteran defensive end Scott Patchan had entered his name into the transfer portal via an announcement on social media:

Patchan started six games last season and played in all 13 for Miami in 2019. He recorded 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks while in the lineup but ultimately took a back seat to star pass rusher Greg Rousseau and a host of others.

The loss of Patchan certainly hurts the depth head coach Manny Diaz has to play with but is by no means a killer given what will return in 2020 along the line. In addition to Rousseau (coming off a 15.5 sack campaign) and former AAC Defensive Player of the Year Roche, rising sophomore Jahfari Harvey saw action and former five-star Jaelan Phillips will be eligible after transferring from UCLA.

Patchan, who received a waiver from the NCAA for a sixth-year after injuries hampered his career, will be immediately eligible for his new school.

Miami opens the 2020 season with a game against Temple as part of a three-game homestand against Group of Five opponents before traveling to Michigan State for a big non-conference test.

Buyouts and Chip Kelly’s grocery bill lands UCLA with $18.9 million deficit in 2019

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A difficult year for UCLA on the football field was just as difficult on the balance sheet.

According to details obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, the Bruins reported a shocking $18.9 million deficit for the recent 2018-19 fiscal year. This was the result of $108.4 million in revenue and $127.3 million in outgoing expenses.

“A confluence of events over the past two years led us to this point,” AD Dan Guerrero said in a statement to the paper, “and while it is unusual for us, we expect this shortfall can be mitigated.

“The investments made into our football and men’s basketball programs will pay off, ticket sales will normalize and one-time expenses will be paid.”

Those investments included a nearly 30 percent increase in the football program’s funding since the hire of Chip Kelly in late 2017. While former head coach Jim Mora’s buyout (nearly $12.5 million) was recorded in the previous year’s budget, the effects of it naturally carried over and created an even tricker situation when basketball coach Steve Alford’s buyout was thrown in for 2019.

In addition to buyouts, the grocery bill seemed to play a pretty big factor in the deficit as well. While this doesn’t appear to just be the case of switching from Albertsons to Whole Foods, under Kelly the program’s budget for nutrition ballooned from just a shade under $1 million to nearly $5.4 million last year. Add in decreased ticket sales in football (down $3.5 million from projections) after a disappointing year and increased costs from other places in the department and you can see how UCLA quickly went from being in the black into the red.

Needless to say, that puts even more pressure on Kelly and company to help turn things around in 2020. Things in Westwood haven’t been rosy in some time in the major revenue-producing sports and it seems it’s finally caught up to the folks in powder blue.