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.
Amari Cooper set a franchise record with 265 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns and a 2-point conversion to move the Cleveland Browns closer to a playoff berth with a 36-22 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Cooper's performance moved him atop the Browns' record book ahead of Josh Gordon, who had 261 yards receiving against Jacksonville on Dec. 1, 2013. He has 1,250 yards receiving this season, making him the first receiver in team history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
The Browns can’t clinch a playoff spot this week, but at 10-5 they’re all but guaranteed to secure just their second postseason appearance since 2002. It’s the third time since 1999 that they’ve reached double-digit wins, doing so in 2007 and 2020.
Joe Flacco threw for 368 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in his fourth start for the Browns, who built a 22-7 halftime lead and cruised to their third straight victory.
Cooper had TD catches of 75 and 7 yards and set up Cleveland's first score with a 53-yard reception on the first play of the day.
Houston’s wild-card playoff hopes took a blow as the Texans fell to 8-7 on a day when Case Keenum threw for just 62 yards with two interceptions in his second start in place of star rookie C.J. Stroud, who remains out with a concussion. Keenum was replaced by Davis Mills late in the third quarter.
After squeaking out a 19-16 overtime win at Tennessee last week, Houston struggled from the start Sunday, and the team didn’t score on offense until the fourth quarter.
The Browns took an early lead when Jerome Ford took a direct snap and scored on a 4-yard run on the first possession. Cooper made it 14-0 when he grabbed a 75-yard reception for a TD early in the second quarter.
Dameon Pierce cut the lead to 7 when he returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Pierce, in his first action as a returner Sunday, got a couple of early blocks before simply outrunning the rest of the defense for Houston’s second kick return score of the season.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins, who attempted to chase down Pierce during the run, left after that with a hamstring injury, and the Browns didn’t attempt a PAT the rest of the game.
The Browns extended the lead on a 21-yard reception by David Njoku with about four minutes left in the first half. Backup QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson ran for the 2-point conversion to make it 22-7.
Flacco connected with Cooper again on a 7-yard TD with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, but the 2-point conversion failed, making it 28-7.
Duron Harmon picked Keenum off soon after Cooper’s second score. Cleveland’s defense celebrated the turnover by running to the end zone and pretending to make snow angels.
The offense got in the end zone again on the next drive when Kareem Hunt scored on a 1-yard run. Cooper caught the 2-point conversion to leave the Browns up 36-7 early in the fourth.
Mills, the starter for most of the last two seasons, cut the lead to 36-15 when he finally got the Texans into the end zone on a TD pass and 2-point conversion to Nico Collins.
Houston got an onside kick and added another touchdown after that to cut the lead to 36-22 with about four minutes left.
Browns LB Anthony Walker Jr. missed the game after undergoing knee surgery Thursday. … Browns CB Martin Emerson Jr. injured his shin in the third quarter. … Houston S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and DE Jonathan Greenard (ankle) were both injured in the first half and didn’t return.
Browns: Host the New York Jets on Thursday night.
Texans: Host Tennessee next Sunday.
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!