Clemson is playing for a national championship for a fifth time in its history and like the previous four times it played for it all, its once again the underdog. The Tigers are a 5.5-point underdog to SEC Champion LSU.
Clemson and LSU will meet in New Orleans in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 13 from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 8 p.m., ET.
“I guess you could say we’re pretty comfortable with [being the underdog],” Clemson linebacker Chad Smith said. “We don’t really look too much at the outside noise, whether we’re an underdog or whether we’re the team to beat in a particular game. I mean, we just focus on what we can control, focus on our preparation, and LSU is a great team. They’re here for a reason. They’ve got a great offense, great defense, all-around team and program, so it’s going to take a lot from us in our preparation to be able to have an opportunity to beat LSU in the championship. But it’s definitely going to be a challenge.”
Clemson is 3-1 in national championship games as the underdog, including last year’s 44-16 win over Alabama. The Crimson Tide was a 6-point favorite heading into last year’s title game.
“Being here two years now and playing in a few games, you just see how much it doesn’t really matter who’s the favorite, and I think we as a team really understand that,” Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “Not necessarily that we take offense to it, it’s just like it really doesn’t matter who the favorite is. You’ve got to go play the game.
“The game is going to be won on January 13. It’s not won before when all the odds come out. You’ve got to play it. So, I think, like Chad said, you have to prepare, and whoever prepares the best and plays the best on Monday is going to win the game.”
Though Clemson says it doesn’t mind being the underdog, you know head coach Dabo Swinney is going to use it to his advantage as he motivates his football team, a team that has not lost since playing in New Orleans in the 2018 CFP Semifinals … a stretch of 29 games. All season, Swinney has motivated his players by using the no respect card, especially when the Tigers kept slipping in the polls despite beating teams by 30 and 40-plus points each week. So far, it has out worked out well for Clemson.
“I mean, it just goes back to our preparation. We can hear all the outside noise or we can really focus on what we can do, have a narrow focus, put those blinders on, get ready to go back to work here soon in the next few days, and prepare ourselves to the best of our ability to have that chance to be national champions again,” Smith said.
Clemson is going back to the national championship game after once again winning the Fiesta Bowl over Ohio State. Get your official national championship and Fiesta Bowl champs gear right here!