NEW ORLEANS – LSU’s storybook season stayed on script right to the end.
The Tigers’ rise to No. 1 and Joe Burrow’s record-shattering season came to a climax in a 42-25 victory over No. 3 Clemson in the College Football Playoff Championship Game on Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
LSU completed the first 15-0 season in school history as a raucous crowd of mostly Tigers fans celebrated the school’s fourth national championship and first since 2007 in its first trip to the CFP.
“What a great night for the LSU Tigers,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “What a night for the purple and gold. What a night for the state of Louisiana.”
What a night for Burrow, who won the Heisman Trophy by a record margin last month,
He passed for five touchdowns and ran for one to give him 60 touchdown passes and 65 touchdowns accounted for this season, breaking the NCAA records set by Hawaii’s Colt Brennan in 2006. Burrow completed 31 of 49 passes for 463 yards and rushed 14 times for 58 yards.
“It feels good, I don’t know what else to say,” Burrow said. I’m kind of speechless. This was a long time coming. This doesn’t come around every year. This is a special group of guys that came together.”
Defending national champion Clemson, which had won two of the last three national championships, finished 14-1 after seeing its 29-game winning streak end.
“It’s been a long time since I stood in front of a team with a loss,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “But tonight was all about LSU. What an unbelievable game. I thought LSU played a beautiful game. I thought their quarterback was tremendous.”
Biletnikoff Award winner J’Marr Chase caught nine of Burrow’s passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Jefferson caught nine passes for 106 yards, Thaddeus Moss caught two touchdown passes and Terrace Marshall caught one touchdown.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was limited by a hamstring injury in a 63-28 victory over No. 4 Oklahoma in the CFP Semifinal at the Peach Bowl 16 days earlier, rushed 16 times for 110 yards and Burrow ran 14 times for 58 yards.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Offensive MVP of last season’s title-game victory over Alabama as a freshman, lost for the first time in 26 games as a college starter.
He completed 18 of 37 for 234 yards and didn’t throw a touchdown pass, though he did run one yard for the game’s first touchdown. He lost a fumble to Derek Stingley Jr. on Clemson’s final play for the game’s only turnover.
Travis Etienne’s 3-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass on Clemson’s first possession of the third quarter cut LSU’s lead to 28-25. Etienne, a two-time ACC Offensive Player of the Year from Jennings High School, had 78 yards on 15 carries and caught five passes for 36 yards.
Burrow threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Moss to give LSU a 35-25 lead after three quarters and tossed a 24-yarder to Marshall with 12:08 left.
After Lawrence’s touchdown run midway through the first quarter, Burrow threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Chase to tie the score at the end of the first quarter.
B.T. Potter made a 52-yard field goal, the longest in CFP history, and Tee Higgins ran 36 yards on a reverse for touchdown that increased Clemson’s lead to 17-7, marking LSU’s biggest deficit of the season.
Burrow ran three yards for a touchdown and threw touchdown passes of 14 yards to Chase and six yards to Moss to give LSU a 28-17 halftime lead.
“He’s one of the greatest players in LSU history,” Orgeron said of Burrow. “I grew up wanting to be the head coach of LSU. I’m so proud of the state of Louisiana. I’m just happy for the people from Louisiana.
“But you’ve got to give the credit to the football team. They’ve been working for one year. They deserve this day.”