LSU 42, Clemson 25

LSU knocks off Clemson 42-25, completes one of the most historic seasons in college football history

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The LSU Tigers are national champions. And their season is one that might not be topped for a long time.

The Bayou Bengals knocked off the defending champion Clemson Tigers 42-25 on Monday night, and the celebration in Louisiana is likely to last a while.

While LSU fans revel, they should also recognize what might have been the greatest single-season run in college football history.

While any list is subjective, many consider what the 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers did to be one of the most impressive single seasons in college football history before this year. That team finished No. 1, and beat Oklahoma, Colorado and Alabama, the teams that finished 2-3-4.

Realistically, however, the modern era (post 2000), the teams that are most impressive start with 2004 USC. The 13-0 Trojans featured Heisman winner Matt Leinart, and destroyed Adrian Peterson and Oklahoma in the championship game 55-19. That group would lose the next season to another team worth considering, the 2005 Vince Young-led Texas Longhorns. The Horns averaged 50.2 points per game that season. Of course, the 2001 Miami Hurricanes had perhaps the greatest collection of talent on one team, with stars like Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Vince Wilfork, Ed Reed...They were simply loaded.

But this LSU team takes a back seat to no one. Of the Tigers 15 wins, SEVEN were against teams ranked in the Top 10 when they played - Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson. Four of those teams were in the top 5 at the time they played. They faced 11 teams that played in a bowl or the playoff.

Heading into the championship game, the Tigers averaged 48.9 points per game, most in the nation. Quarterback Joe Burrow had a historic season, throwing for over 5,000 yards, completing nearly 80 percent of his passes and winning the Heisman Trophy. He set an NCAA single season record for touchdown passes.

LSU had two 1,000-yard receivers (Ja'Mar Chase and Justin Jefferson) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Clyde Edwards-Helaire) to go with their 5,000-yard passer. They scored 726 points, most in FBS history. They have four projected first-round picks in the NFL Draft this year alone and several others over the next two years. With all that, they deserve to be in the talk for best single season team ever.

When it counted most, they finished it by beating a near dynasty - a team that had not lost in 29 games - for a national championship.

With a season for the ages.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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