LSU vs. Clemson takeaways: Joe Burrow, Ed Orgeron achieve perfection; Trevor Lawrence takes first college lossSporting News — (Bill Bender)
NEW ORLEANS — No. 1 LSU defeated No. 3 Clemson 42-25 in the College Football Playoff championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Monday.
Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow put on another spectacular performance. He finished 31 of 49 passing for 463 yards and five touchdowns, adding 58 rushing yards and another score. Ja’Marr Chase had nine catches for a CFP championship-game record 221 yards and two touchdowns.
LSU (15-0) completed a remarkable season under coach Ed Orgeron. Clemson (14-1) saw its 29-game win streak end in its fourth appearance in the CFP title game.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the championship game.
LSU’s first-half outburst made difference
Clemson led 17-7 with 10:38 left in the first half before Joe Burrow led a 21-0 run to close the half with big plays in all phases.
Burrow scored on a 3-yard touchdown run then hit Ja’Marr Chase with a 14-yard touchdown pass. Chase had six catches for 162 yards in the first half alone, but the defining play came on third-and-10 from the 35-yard-line with 21 seconds left in the second quarter.
On a third-and-10 after a timeout, Burrow took a quarterback draw up the middle for a 29-yard gain, and he hit Thaddeus Moss for a 6-yard touchdown on the next play. Burrow had 270 passing yards and 55 yards by halftime, and that run allowed LSU to take a 28-17 lead into the locker room.
Burrow, however, was hit in the ribs James Skalski on the play. When asked after the game what his thought process was on returning, Burrow said he had "no choice" but to come back in and finish the game.
Trevor Lawrence didn't win third down
Trevor Lawrence took his first loss as a starter, and Clemson saw its 29-game win streak under coach Dabo Swinney end.
Lawrence started hot. He was 7 of 11 for 130 yards and had 18 rushing yards in the first quarter. Lawrence, however, didn't have the same success on third down that propelled Clemson to a win in the 2019 CFP championship game.
Lawrence finished just 2 of 11 for 20 yards on third down, including six overthrows, and took a sack on third down on the game's first possession. LSU found ways to limit Clemson's scoring chances in scoring territory, even when the game was tight in the second half.
LSU has claim to greatest season ever
Clemson pushed back and cut LSU’s lead to 28-25 after the teams' opening drives in the third quarter, but it couldn't stop the LSU offensive machine, which was crafted by offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Joe Brady.
Burrow, however, answered with touchdown pass to Thaddeus Moss. A 24-yard touchdown pass to Terrace Marshall with 12:08 remaining gave LSU a commanding 42-25 lead. That's when "Callin' Baton Rouge" cranked up on the loudspeakers and Burrow fired up the LSU band.
Burrow set records galore in the regular season and College Football Playoff.
The Tigers won seven games against top-10 opponents with a team that finished with 48.4 points per game. That was enough to topple the defending national champions and give LSU its first national championship since 2007.
Orgeron’s team defeated three active coaches with national championships in Swinney, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher. LSU belongs in the greatest SEC team of all time discussion, and perhaps even the greatest team of all time.