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

No. 4 dual-threat JUCO QB in 2019 to transfer from Middle Tennessee State

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Middle Tennessee State was the landing spot for a Power Five football transfer earlier this month.  Now, the Conference USA school is on the wrong end of the portal.

According to 247Sports.com, Randall Johnson has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  An MTSU official has subsequently confirmed that the quarterback is indeed listed in the portal.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Johnson began his collegiate career at Reedley College in 2018.  As a true freshman, he was named as the Golden Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year.  That year, the California native threw for 2,832 yards and 28 touchdowns.  He also ran for another 797 yards and 14 scores.

In the 2019 recruiting cycle, Johnson was a three-star prospect.  On the 247Sports.com composite, Johnson was rated as the No. 4 dual-threat junior-college quarterback.

In his only season with the Blue Raiders, Johnson played in one game.  In that lone appearance, Johnson ran for three yards on a pair of carries. He didn’t attempt a pass.

May 18, Kenneth Major committed to MTSU.  The cornerback was a starter at Purdue.  He’ll be eligible to play for the Blue Raiders in 2020.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.

Tulsa WR Malik Jackson plunges into the transfer portal

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You can officially put Tulsa on the football transfer portal tote board for the first time in a while.  And not in a good way.

According to 247Sports.com, Malik Jackson has made his way into the NCAA transfer database.  That would be the wide receiver’s first step in ultimately leaving the Tulsa football team.

Thus far, there been no word from either the program or the player on Jackson’s status moving forward.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Jackson was a two-star member of the Tulsa football Class of 2017.  The Taylor, Texas, native didn’t see the field at all during his time with the Golden Hurricane.

It’s likely Jackson will be leaving the AAC school as a graduate transfer.  That would allow him to play immediately in 2020.  He would also have another season of eligibility to use in 2021 as well.

Earlier this offseason, Tulsa had welcomed a trio of Power Five transfer into the football program.

Two are former Texas A&M football players — linebacker Brian Johnson and running back Deneric Prince — while one is from Oklahoma State — tight end Grayson Boomer.

All three of those transfers will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws. Johnson and Prince will have two years of eligibility remaining, Boomer three.

Western Kentucky starting TE Kyle Fourtenbary transfers to FCS Northern Iowa

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One erstwhile Western Kentucky football player has found himself a new college football home. Unofficially, of course.

Late last month, Kyle Fourtenbary opted to enter into the NCAA transfer database.  That was his first official step in leaving the Western Kentucky football team.  Three weeks later, the tight end took the next by announcing on Twitter he is headed to Northern Iowa.

The Panthers play at the FCS level.  That will allow Fourtenbary to play immediately in 2020.  He is also a WKU graduate, so that would’ve granted him immediate eligibility as well.

The upcoming season will be Fourtenbary’s final one.  At least, at the collegiate level it will.

“Excited to announce that I will be transferring to the University of Northern Iowa to finish up my last year of college football!” Fourtenbary tweeted. “Looking forward to a great season.”

A two-star 2016 signee, Fourtenbary redshirted as a true freshman.  The following year, he caught eight passes for 96 yards.  Those numbers were good for third among Hilltoppers tight ends.

The 2018 campaign turned out to be a breakout season for Fourtenbary.  That year, the 6-4, 245-pound Alabama native caught 36 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns.  He started 11 of the 12 games in which he played.

Entering the 2019 season, Fourtenbary was named as part of the Mackey Award preseason watch list.  Last year, though, he totaled just 108 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions in the first season under new head coach Tyson Helton.

Mississippi State’s Jarrian Jones switches Egg Bowl sides, announces transfer to Ole Miss

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Jarrian Jones spent the first portion of the Egg Bowl rivalry on the Mississippi State side.  Now, he’s headed to the other.

Earlier this week, Jarrian Jones became the fifth Mississippi State football player to enter the NCAA transfer database in seven weeks.  This weekend, he became the latest MSU player to find new home as the defensive back has flipped to the Ole Miss side of the Egg Bowl rivalry.

Jones was a four-star member of the Mississippi State football Class of 2019.  The Mississippi native was the No. 18 safety in the country on the 247Sports.com composite.  He was also the No. 13 prospect regardless of position in his home state.  Only three signees in the class that year for MSU were rated higher than Jones.

As a true freshman, Jones started one of the dozen games in which he played.  In those appearances, he was credited with 12 tackles, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

After sitting out the 2020 season, the defensive back will have three years of eligibility to use starting in 2021.

The four other Mississippi State football players who have entered the portal in nearly seven weeks?