LSU, Burrow down Clemson to prove they are best by a wide margin

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NEW ORLEANS – Clemson was the chalk in college football.

The Tigers of the ACC were on a 29-game win streak. Playing in three of the last four national championship games. A quarterback who is 25-0.

Clemson was the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation, giving up just 11.5 points per game.

The most points Clemson had given up was 23 to Ohio State in the national semifinal game and Clemson had only given up 20 or points twice in the season.

Trevor Lawrence was celebrated as the most talented quarterback in the country and the sure-fire top overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Something called the ESPN FPI gave Clemson a 56 percent chance to win, despite LSU being a 5.5-point favorite.

They had not lost in 742 days.

Clemson was clamoring for respect. Perhaps that should have been LSU.

By night’s end, LSU demanded, commanded and landed that respect before 76,885 fans.

On a foggy day and night in New Orleans, LSU started the game against Clemson in the fog and started the second half the same way.

In between, LSU left Clemson in the fog.

LSU played a much tougher schedule, in a much tougher conference and proved to be tougher than Clemson. LSU had the better quarterback.

Here are my Quick Takes from LSU’s 42-25 win over Clemson:

LSU won the toss and deferred.

Clemson tried two trick plays to start the game. The first failed miserably, losing six yards. The second succeeded wildly, as Trevor Lawrence hit Justyn Ross on a 35-yard completion on a perfectly thrown ball.

Grant Delpit then came up huge, sacking Lawrence to stop the drive and Clemson opted to punt, rather than try what would have been a 52-yard field goal.
Michael Divinity was in on the first series of the game, returning from his suspension.

LSU had to start at its own 7-yard line and on the first play, Joe Burrow escaped a sack and on the move, made a great throw to Thaddeus Moss for 38 yards but Adrian McGee was flagged for being illegally downfield. It was tough. The play was extended and he was blocking a defender who had dropped off.

LSU had scored a touchdown on its opening drive in six straight games.

The LSU defense got a stop but again, the LSU offense was pinned back, this time to the 4-yard line.

The offense again did nothing and punted.

Clemson proceeded to take the lead, driving 67 yards in five plays, taking 2:05 off the clock with Lawrence scoring on a 1-yard run to make it 7-0 with 6:34 to play in the opening quarter.

LSU trailed for the first time since the Auburn game on Oct. 26.

LSU finally got it going to tie the game with 2:20 to play in the first quarter, driving 70 yards in four plays with Burrow connecting with Ja’Marr Chase on a 52-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-7.

Jacoby Stevens was shaken up on the next defensive series but was able to walk off the field. He would return and delivered a big hit later in the half.

Clemson drove 40 yards in nine plays before the drive stalled. B.T. Potter came on and drilled a 52-yard field goal to give Clemson a 10-7 lead with 13:43 to play in the first half. Potter is now 3-for-3 from 50 yards and beyond this season.

LSU was obviously not convinced that Clemson would try the field goal. They were late getting players on the field and were still looking around when the ball was snapped.

Clemson got a stop, LSU pinned its opponent back to its own 4-yard line. It did not matter. Clemson went 96 yards in just four plays with Tee Higgins racing 36 yards for a touchdown on a reverse to make it 17-7 with 10:38 to play in the first half.

It marked the first time that LSU trailed by double figures all season.

Burrow then hit Chase for 56 yards to the 3-yard line.

Then, Burrow finished the job, himself, scoring on a 3-yard quarterback draw to cut the deficit to 17-14 with 9:17 to play in the first half. The drive covered 75 yards in five plays.

Ed Ingram was in at guard on the touchdown run.

LSU then took its first lead, driving 87 yards in six plays with Burrow connecting with Chase on a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-17 with 5:19 to play in the half. Burrow was terrific, throwing and running on the drive.

It was the 20th touchdown catch of the season for Chase.

Delpit went down late in the second quarter.

LSU then went 95 yards in 11 plays, scoring with 10 seconds left in the half on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to Thaddeus Moss to make it 28-17 at halftime.

The big play was a clear pass interference call on Clemson on a third-and-19 for LSU after Burrow had been sacked.

It was Burrow’s 58th touchdown pass, tying the all-time record of Colt Brennan.

LSU scored 21 unanswered points to end the half. The Tigers put up 269 yards in the second quarter.

Burrow was 16-of-28 for 270 yards and three touchdowns and rushed eight times for 55 yards and a score in the half. His 270 yards were the most in a College Football Playoff game, topping the mark of Deshaun Watson set three years ago.

After making just 17 yards on its first three possessions, LSU finished the first half with 359 yards to 286 yards for Clemson.

LSU got the ball to start the second half but did nothing, going 3-and out.

LSU gave Clemson the ball at midfield following a 15-yard penalty and Clemson promptly drove 50 yards in six plays with Travis Etienne scoring on a 3-yard run. Then, Lawrence passed to Amari Rodgers for a 2-point conversion and it was 28-25 with 10:49 to play in the third quarter.

Tee Higgins went into the locker room midway through the third quarter.

Linebacker James Skalski, who drilled Burrow in the ribs at the end of the first half, was ejected from the game with 5:38 to play in the third quarter for targeting Justin Jefferson on a completed pass. He definitely led with his helmet.

On the next play, Burrow connected with Moss on a 4-yard touchdown pass to give LSU a 35-25 lead with 5:53 to play in the third quarter. The big play to set it up was a 43-yard completion from Burrow to Chase.

The touchdown was the 59th of the season for Burrow, breaking Brennan’s record.

Kristian Fulton then came up with a huge interception but it was negated by a lousy pass interference call against Fulton, who was hand-fighting with the receiver. It was not pass interference.

Still, LSU got a stop and on the next series, Burrow had Chase deep for a score but Chase missed it in the end zone, apparently not seeing the ball.

It was a big miss because Cade York then missed a 45-yard field goal.

Undaunted, the LSU defense got another stop before Burrow connected with Terrace Marshall on a beautiful fade throw to the outside shoulder for a 24-yard touchdown. It was NFL stuff, a throw which allowed Marshall to use his superior height to go up and get the ball and LSU expanded the lead to 42-25 with 12:08 to play in the game.

It was the 60th touchdown pass for Burrow.

Lawrence then hit Higgins on a 48-yard touchdown pass but it was nullified for offensive pass interference on Higgins against Kary Vincent.

Delpit then drilled Lawrence, who was trying to run, forcing a fumble and Derek Stingley Jr. recovered at the LSU 45-yard line.

LSU then ran the clock out to finish an impressive victory. LSU reached the Clemson 6-yard line and easily could have scored again but Ed Orgeron showed class, instructing his great quarterback to take a knee.

It was the fourth game of 400 or more passing yards for Burrow this season. He also set an NCAA record for being responsible for the most touchdowns in a season with 65.

The 726 points scored by LSU this season are the most scored in the AP poll era.

Burrow was the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the game.

Against the best defense in the country, Burrow completed 31-of-49 passes for 463 yards and five touchdowns and rushed 14 times for 58 yards and a touchdown.

Burrow had the best season any quarterback has ever had in college football.

To put it in further perspective, ESPN Stats Inc. came up with this awesome fact.

Burrow was responsible for 14 touchdowns in two playoff games. The Big Ten has scored a total of 13 touchdowns in its playoff history. The Pac-12 has scored a total of 11 touchdowns in its playoff history.

Patrick Queen was the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the game with eight tackles, including two tackles for loss.

LSU broke a record for the most yards in a season in college football history.

Lawrence was not particularly impressive. He completed just 18-of-37 passes for 234 yards with no touchdowns and he missed receivers on several occasions. He did rush 10 times for 49 yards and a score.

It was a perfect night.

With many luminaries, including President Donald Trump and his wife, Lauren Daigle nailed the national anthem, Vince Vaughn is suddenly an LSU fan and a ton of former Tiger players were squarely in the fold, bleeding purple and gold.

A couple of weeks after a gut-wrenching shocking Saints’ loss to the Vikings in the same building, this time, the state of Louisiana had its night to shine.

What a difference eight years make.

In 2012, LSU could not cross midfield in an embarrassing 21-0 loss to Alabama in the national championship game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome under Miles with Jordan Jefferson at quarterback.

Eight years later, LSU put it on the best defense in the country and the defending national champion with Justin Jefferson, the younger brother, at wide receiver.

The transformation of the LSU offense from the ground-and-pound, terrible time management offense to the spread it out, check-with-me, let it fly all-out attack of the 2019 season is perhaps as amazing as the accomplishment, itself.

Nick Saban laid the foundation, building a great program, netting a national championship for LSU. Les Miles continued that run for quite some time, winning another national championship and making it to another title game.

Since that time, LSU has not been a threat on the national stage.

Now, with Louisiana native Ed Orgeron, the third choice for the job after Miles was dismissed, LSU is No. 1 in demonstrative fashion.

As for Burrow, even though he only played two years for the Tigers, he will go down, to this point in LSU history, as the greatest player to wear the purple and gold. He will be hard, make that nearly impossible, to replace.

I will say it again. Burrow had the best season any quarterback has ever had at the college level.

Who is worried about that right now? Really?

LSU is the best, passing every test. Now, we can all rest easy after a long night and season.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

Owner/CEO

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association,…

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