A Tale of Two Tigers: LSU Triumphs in National Championship

Quarterback+Joe+Burrow+hoists+the+National+Championship+Trophy+after+defeating+the+Clemson+Tigers+42-25.

Sue Ogrocki (New York Times)

Quarterback Joe Burrow hoists the National Championship Trophy after defeating the Clemson Tigers 42-25.

James Hardy, Staff Writer

In what was essentially a home game in New Orleans, Louisiana State University brought home its first national title in 12 years in their high-scoring rout of Clemson.

After a shaky start, in which they were forced into multiple 3-and-outs, LSU began firing on all cylinders. Star linebacker Patrick Queen led the rest of the defense in bringing Clemson’s offense, which at first was blazing down the field behind sophomore QB Trevor Lawrence, to a grinding halt. The Bayou Tigers put up 21 points on their Palmetto State counterparts in the second quarter alone. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables lost all control over the Joe Burrow-led LSU offense, and wasn’t be able to take it back for the rest of the game. 

Burrow torched Clemson’s defense to the tune of 463 yards and 5 touchdowns, breaking the single-season touchdown record for a CFB quarterback in the process. This performance was only the latest episode of the Joe Burrow Show, which has been lighting up stadiums around the South since August. With a 60 touchdown/6 interception season and a 76% completion rate, Burrow, a former backup for the Ohio State Buckeyes, has a decent argument for the best college quarterback season of all time.

Lawrence, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to make a move for the entire second half. This came as a surprise to many, who expected the reigning champion to dominate the LSU defense. 

“I really thought that the Clemson offense would be harder for LSU to stop, especially in the second half,” said Brian Ely. “LSU’s adjustments on defense really stymied Trevor Lawrence, I didn’t see that coming.”

It was particularly shocking to doubters of the LSU defense, which has drastically improved since the start of the season.

“Even though LSU’s played really great defense down the stretch, they kind of gave up a lot of yards and points earlier in the season,” said Ely. “But once they got everybody healthy and really locked it down late in the season, they were as good as any defensive unit in the country and that really shined through Monday night.”

Expectations were shattered on both offense and defense. Even considering their regular season performance, LSU’s offensive production in the title game was outstanding.

“I know they have a great offense, probably one of the best,” said Patrick Scott. “I just didn’t think they’d put up that many points in the championship.”

For those that believed LSU would emerge victorious, the lopsided 42-25 score was still a pleasant surprise.

“I thought it would be a really close game,” said Ely. “Because it was the best two teams in the country, they have great offenses, I thought it’d be close. I thought LSU would wind up on top because they just seemed like an unstoppable force, but I really think a lot of Clemson, so the fact that they won by 17 was definitely more than I thought it would be but it wasn’t the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen.”

Senior Ellie Gies, an avid Clemson fan, traveled to New Orleans in support of her team. Going into the game, she had high expectations.

“As a Clemson fan, I thought we would win,” said Gies. “I thought it was going to be a close game, no matter what, because I know LSU has had a really great season, but I had a lot of confidence in Clemson.”

Despite the loss, Gies said the game was still a fantastic experience.

“Either way, we had really good seats, I love football so I was just really excited to go,” said Gies. “I knew no matter what was going to be a fun game.”