College Football Playoff National Championship
LSU vs Clemson CFP National Championship Game: Good, Bad and Ugly
These two teams were the ones left standing at the end of the college football season. This was like a preview of the Wilder-Fury 2 fight. Two heavyweights going at it for the right to call themselves the national champion. Here are my observations:
-LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy for a reason. He turned in a 521-yard and six touchdown performance in order to complete the mission. This was his lowest completion percentage (63.3%) this year, but it's to be expected against his best competition. He made a statement game and staked his claim to having one of the best seasons in college football history.
-Clyde Edwards-Helaire turned in a 21 touch for 164 yard performance. He didn't score for LSU, but his presence made a huge difference. Averaging 6.9 yards per carry and 10.8 per catch out the backfield provided just enough of a weapon LSU to give their passing attack what they needed in order to do what they did to carve up the Clemson defense.
-Defense was the name of the game. Despite the amount of points scored (67) and yards gained (1,022), all of them were hard-fought. There are times when we as fans must recognize when good offense beats good defense. Both defenses gave both offenses all they could handle. Holding Clemson to just under 400 yards helped LSU win and complete the mission.
-LSU got called for two penalties early on that hurt them on both sides of the ball. The first was an offsides on defense in which Trevor Lawrence hit Justyn Ross for a 35-yard gain on the free play. The next was an illegal man down field on offense when a lineman must've thought Burrow was going to scramble after feeling pressure, but he hit a Thaddeus Moss for a 38-yard gain and got called back. Both led to them being pinned deep in their own territory.
-Trevor Lawrence completed less than 50% of his passes. His 18/37 for 234 yard performance led to his first loss since he took over the starting duties for Clemson. If you want to get technical, this was his first loss since high school in 2017. Despite being the better pro prospect, Lawrence was out-performed by Burrow.
-Travis Etienne was held to 78 yards rushing on 15 carries. Take out his long of 29, and he rushed for only 3.5 yards per carry. He was the guy I looked at when I though of how Clemson could beat LSU. They needed Etienne and the run game to come through, and it didn't happen.
-Blatant pass interference call missed by refs at the 7:15 mark in the 3rd quarter. Derion Kendrick grabbed Ja'Marr Chase and pulled him down on a pass that appeared to be catchable, but the refs didn't see it as a catchable ball so they didn't throw the flag. I always thought when a defensive back grabbed a receiver while the ball was in air it was a penalty. Starting to think the pass interference rule has gone the way of the catch rule.
-There were a combined 18 accepted penalties for 183 yards between the two teams. In the biggest game of the year between the two best teams in college football, we saw some sloppy play. Granted, it was a bit over two weeks since they last played, but this was not what I expected from the best two teams in the country.
-When looking at the game and figuring out how LSU was able to take control and win, one key stat popped out: Clemson was 1 for 11 on 3rd down conversions. They were 46.5% on the season converting 3rd downs, but were held to only one in the biggest game of the year. Converting 3rd downs means moving the chains and ball control, which usually translates to wins. This was possibly one of the main reasons why Clemson lost.
What a game. I'm a Louisiana native an admitted LSU fan. I'm also a sports nerd who loves college football. When I say this was a great cake topper to the beautiful dessert college football has been to us this season, I mean that. LSU and Burrow have made their case for one of the best seasons by a team and player ever. Clemson was the perfect opponent. They were the defending champs on a 29-game win streak seeking their third title in four years led by a guy who's been hyped to be one of the best quarterback prospects in recent memory. However, they were beat by a team that had a mission in mind and weren't going to be stopped. So let the debate begin on where LSU and Burrow stand in the all time rankings. They have earned their spot in that argument and then some.