NEW ORLEANS – Third-ranked Clemson and No. 1 LSU last played two weeks ago in the College Football Playoff Semifinal and won’t play the CFP National Championship Game until Monday evening.
The long layover proved beneficial in rebuilding the teams’ health after physical games in the semifinals but have players and coaches itching to get back on the field and prove who is the best team in college football.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables want to spot the ball right now but knows the break has helped player to heal up from the thrilling and brutal 29-23 win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
“They are all excited to play and it has been nice to have a little bit of extra time after a physically challenging game against Ohio State,” Venables told reporters at CFP National Championship Game Media Day on Saturday.
When Clemson entered the season a lot of national media members overlooked Venables’ defense that replaced a host of NFL draft picks in its front seven. But the defensive coordinator restocked and now has the best defense in the country in terms of points per game and yards allowed.
“For me personally this has been out of nowhere. Because of how we’re built we have to have a championship defense,” Venables said. “Fortunately, our guys believed and worked incredibly hard to develop and systematically we came up with something that worked incredibly well for us this year.”
Both teams gleamed of anticipation and excitement to share the biggest stage in college football in the Superdome.
Venables knows both teams deserve the opportunity to compete for a national championship.
“Our guys are excited and so is LSU, we’ve both worked incredibly hard and are not defined by getting to this moment, but you are hopeful. This is well deserved and hard earned,” Venables said.
While LSU sits as a six point favorite right now, on paper the game looks to be one of the best matchups in recent memory. The Clemson defensive coordinator knows stopping Joe Burrow and the Bayou Bengels is nothing to scoff at especially in their home state of Louisiana. But in his eyes the defending national champions earned their way and will hold their own against LSU.
“But what a great matchup and it’s cool to play them here because it feels like you’re going into Baton Rouge and that makes it fun,” Venables said. “They are really good and playing their best football right now and so are we.”
The two undefeated teams kickoff at 8 p.m. EST in the Superdome to determine which team will earn the 2019 national championship.