Staff picks for the national championship game matchup between Clemson and LSU

This year's College Football Playoff championship game will feature something old and something new. What's old is Clemson, which is making its third appearance in four seasons with wins against Alabama the last two times it played for the title. Meanwhile, LSU is what is new. This is the first time the Tigers have been in the Playoff and their first chance to win a national championship since 2011.

Neither team has lost this season, so the winner will finish 15-0. There's star power on display with Heisman winner Joe Burrow leading LSU, while Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne both finished in the top 10 of the voting. It shapes up to be a classic.

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow rolls out to pass against Oklahoma during the first quarter of the 2019 Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff. (Photo: Brett Davis, USA TODAY Sports)

Our college football staff of experts offered their picks for which team would emerge with the title Monday in New Orleans.

Glenn Guilbeau

It will be a classic, but in the end LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will make one more play than Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. LSU’s skillful adjustments on the fly to special defenses will win it as it has all season. LSU 41, Clemson 38

Scott Keepfer

At this point, Clemson will have to prove to me that it is capable of actually losing a game for me to pick against Dabo Swinney’s team. I understand why LSU is favored, but how can anyone doubt Dabo – or is it Dabeaux? – after 29 consecutive victories? I can’t. I’ll take Clemson by the same score of Clemson’s 2016 national title win against Alabama. Clemson 35, LSU 31

Paul Myerberg

It's easy to make an argument for each team: LSU for its offense and quarterback, Clemson for its defense and quarterback. With two such evenly matched teams, experience may end up playing a key role. In that area, at least, Clemson has a decided advantage. It's been more than two years since Clemson lost. Down 16-0 to Ohio State in the national semifinals, the Tigers rose to the occasion to stand at the doorstep of history. In the end, look for Clemson to maintain its winning streak and take home another championship. Clemson 34, LSU 30

Brent Schrotenboer

The LSU Tigers have a destiny thing going on here. They have a Cajun coach and a Heisman winner playing down the road at the Superdome. Now comes the championship. LSU 31, Clemson 17

Erick Smith

What Clemson has done this season, last season and during the past four seasons is remarkable. On the verge of a third title in four years, the Tigers bring experience and a 29-game winning streak into the matchup with LSU. That's not going to be enough. With Joe Burrow leading the way, it's hard to see LSU being slowed down. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will have his moments, but not enough to avoid his first college defeat. LSU 35, Clemson 21.

Eddie Timanus

In the six-year history of the College Football Playoff, the top seed has yet to bring home the title. But that is about to change. Being No. 1 was particularly important this year, as LSU drew a good but not elite Oklahoma team while Clemson needed everything in its tank to get by Ohio State. The extended break should help Clemson a bit, but LSU will still be in much better shape at game time, particularly with Clyde Edwards-Helaire able to rest his injured hamstring. LSU 48, Clemson 34

Dan Wolken

Picking against Clemson in a big game feels wrong because its track record of preparation for this kind of moment is impeccable. However, all the evidence we have seen this year suggests LSU’s offense is not going to be slowed down, particularly by a Clemson team whose defensive line hasn’t been great and whose overall talent level on defense is a bit down from what it was last year. It’s been Joe Burrow’s year, and he will finish it off with a win. LSU 38, Clemson 34

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