Welcome to college football immortality, Joe Burrow.
The LSU Tigers quarterback tallied six touchdowns and capped off his Heisman Trophy-winning season by leading his team to a 42-25 victory over the Clemson Tigers on Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans to win the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. This is LSU's first championship in the CFP era and first national title since the 2007 season.
As for Clemson, this marks a missed opportunity to cement itself as an unquestioned dynasty.
The Tigers were looking for back-to-back championships and a third title in four years, which would have been the most in the CFP era. Instead, quarterback Trevor Lawrence lost the first game of his collegiate career, and Clemson is still tied with Alabama with two CFP championships.
Notable Player Stats
- LSU QB Joe Burrow: 31-of-49 passing for 463 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions; 58 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown
- LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 16 carries for 110 yards; five catches for 54 yards
- LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase: nine catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns
- LSU TE Thaddeus Moss: five catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns
- Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence: 18-of-37 passing for 234 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions; one rushing touchdown
- Clemson RB Travis Etienne: 15 carries for 78 yards and one touchdown; five catches for 36 yards
Joe Burrow Cements His Legacy
Burrow didn't start his collegiate career on LSU, but he will forever be remembered as a school legend.
The Ohio State transfer took the college football world by storm this season as the clear-cut Heisman Trophy winner who oozed confidence and didn't back down from challenges against Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and now Clemson.
Monday's game seemed like it would be a coronation for one of the best seasons in college football history after he threw for a head-turning seven touchdowns in the semifinal win over Oklahoma, and it eventually was after a slow start.
Clemson's defense flummoxed Burrow out of the gates until he turned to his trusty friend Ja'Marr Chase.
Chase had a 52-yard touchdown reception to put the SEC's Tigers on the board, caught another deep ball to set up a touchdown after his team fell behind by 10, gave LSU its first lead with another touchdown in the second quarter and broke free on a 3rd-and-11 screen in the third quarter to set up a touchdown pass to Thaddeus Moss.
He torched Clemson's defense by going deep when he faced tight coverage and underneath when the cornerback backed off or there was help over the top. Clemson also couldn't consistently double him with Justin Jefferson juking defenders in space.
Even an average quarterback would be dangerous with that many weapons, let alone one who set the NCAA record for touchdown passes in a season.
Burrow was at his best in key moments, directing an 11-play, 95-yard touchdown drive that included him picking up a key 3rd-and-10 with his legs right before the end of the first half and finding Terrace Marshall Jr. in the end zone to create some much-needed breathing room in the fourth quarter.
Burrow is now a Heisman winner, national champion, record-holder and college football legend. The next stop is the No. 1 pick of the NFL draft.
Clemson's Magical Run Finally Comes to an End
Turns out it was unreasonable to expect Lawrence to go his entire collegiate career without losing a single game.
While playing in a weak ACC certainly helped him steamroll his way through two seasons of victories, he notched wins over blueblood programs such as Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State in previous playoff games. He consistently delivered in the biggest moments the sport has to offer, but the run came to an end Monday.
There were signs of cracks this season.
Lawrence had five touchdown passes to five interceptions in the first three games, and the team needed to stop a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter just to beat a mediocre North Carolina squad. Clemson also fell behind by 16 points and benefited from some poor officiating and uncharacteristic mistakes from Ohio State to complete its comeback in the semifinals.
The cracks finally broke Monday, but not until after the ACC's Tigers built a double-digit lead early with touchdown runs from Lawrence and Tee Higgins.
However, the defense couldn't stop Burrow and Chase after the first quarter, while Lawrence failed to throw for a single touchdown. That is a recipe for disaster against a team like LSU, and Clemson's run of dominance finally came to an end.