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John Dewan's Stat of the Week - Clemson Tigers

Stat of the Week: National Championship Preview

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By Nate Weller

The college football season comes to a close tonight with a battle of two unbeatens, LSU and Clemson. Let’s preview some of the key stats and players on both sides of the ball.

The Offenses

The quarterbacks will get a lot of attention and justifiably so. LSU's Joe Burrow will likely be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, while Clemson's Trevor Lawrence remains the favorite to be selected first in 2021.

One thing the two quarterbacks have in common is elite accuracy. Looking at catchable percentage (the percent of a quarterback's throws deemed to be catchable by Sports Info Solutions Video Scouts), both Burrow and Lawrence are in the top five in the country, with Burrow in first by a comfortable amount.

FBS Leaders, Catchable% (Minimum 250 attempts)

Rank Player Team Catchable%
1 Joe Burrow LSU 87.4%
2 Tyler Huntley Utah 83.7%
3 Tua Tagovailoa Alabama 82.1%
4 Kedon Slovis USC 81.6%
5 Trevor Lawrence Clemson 80.5%

While both Lawrence and Burrow have been as good as advertised, they both also have a lot of playmakers around them. For Clemson, running back Travis Etienne has forced 42 broken or missed tackles per 100 carries, the best mark in all of college football among running backs with at least 100 rushes. His 5.2 yards after contact per rush is also best in the country.

LSU has one of the most dangerous groups of pass catchers in the nation. As a team, the Tigers' pass catchers lead the FBS in broken tackles and rank third in yards after the catch. Maybe most importantly, their team drop rate of 4% is the fourth lowest in the country.

The Defenses

While most people will be focused on the offenses, this game also features two very good defenses. Clemson’s pass defense leads the nation in total yards, yards per attempt and quarterback rating against, while also ranking third with 19 interceptions. LSU has been almost as dominant, ranking fourth in completion percentage allowed and sixth in quarterback rating against.

LSU is led by standout freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. Stingley is second in the nation with six interceptions (despite dropping four others), tied for third in the country in passes defensed with 15 and fifth in the country in deserved catch rate allowed at 69.6%.

Clemson's top player is stud hybrid linebacker Isaiah Simmons who has done a bit of everything for the Tigers. Simmons leads the team in pressures, sacks, and solo tackles, and has also been a difference maker in pass defense. When Simmons is the primary defender in pass coverage, opposing teams are averaging under six yards per attempt. He has also added three interceptions. 

Overall, there's not a lot to separate these two teams. It definitely seems like these are the two best teams playing for the National Championship tonight.

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