LSU and its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Joe Burrow, comfortably beat defending champions Clemson, 42-25, on Monday night to win the College Football Playoff national championship and cap off one of the more remarkable transformations in the sport's recent history.
No. 1 LSU's victory — in a Battle of the Tigers played in LSU's backyard at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans — was no small feat. No. 3 Clemson came in having won 29 straight games, which included its 44-16 trouncing of Alabama in last year's championship game.
Burrow threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns (and ran for 60 yards and another touchdown) to give LSU (15-0) its fourth national title and hand Clemson sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence his first loss as a college football player.
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Lawrence struggled, throwing for only 213 yards and no touchdowns. But Clemson's defense — ranked second in the nation statistically — didn't have enough answers for LSU's sophisticated NFL-style attack.
Clemson (14-1) limited LSU to just three yards on its first two possessions, but as it has done all season, LSU adjusted once it figured out what the defense was doing, and on its next possession, Burrow threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Ja'Marr Chase to tie the game at 7.
Clemson stormed back to go ahead 17-7, but in the second quarter, Burrow hit Chase for 56 yards, setting LSU up at the 3-yard line, from which Burrow ran it in himself for the touchdown. Burrow and Chase then teamed up on for a 14-yard touchdown to finish off an 87-yard drive, and LSU was rolling.
LSU scored on drives of 70, 75, 87 and 95 yards in the first half. It managed the game in the second half, aided by the ejection of linebacker James Skalski, a leader of Clemson's defense, for targeting in his hard hit on LSU wide receiver James Jefferson in the third quarter.