NEW ORLEANS: In the end, you weren’t thinking of the LSU Tigers in terms of national champions. You and the mostly partisan meeting of 76,885 within the Superdome had already had a room or so to reflect and begin to celebrate that.
No, as you saw the final assault that LSU mounted, the last licks they applied to a proud Clemson team, you might start wondering if this might not be one of the best college football teams we’ve seen.
When this 42-25 schooling was completed, LSU won victories against seven Top-10 teams among its 15 victories. His quarterback, Joe Burrow, would end the season with 60 touchdown passes. The Tigers became the second team to score more than 700 points. And they made Clemson, defending champions, two titles in the last three years, look like another football team. For the final weapon, it was a fair question.
The Superdome was fully charged half an hour before the start. As expected, LSU outnumbered Clemson fans by a little more than 2 to 1, but that didn’t mean Clemson’s crew was bathed in silence. On the contrary: when the Clemson Tigers roared in the field they were greeted with a deafening roar.
That is what unleashed the languages of the other group of Tigers fans. When LSU entered the field, he had to look to make sure the roof had not fallen. After 15 days of waiting, everyone was ready to play this: players, coaches, fans. All the world.
And what everyone received was a 60-minute explanation why these were clearly the two best teams in the sport. From the initial serve to the final weapon, the level of talent was extraordinary, almost impressive: offensive, defense, special teams.
In at least three or four plays, it was just an exemplary defensive play that prevented a gain of 70 or 75 yards; against 105 or so other teams, that would have been the case. Against these two, the mirror images that growled at each other from the other side of the scrimmage line, it was simply an excellent blow exchange, a heavyweight fight that had a bit of everything for everyone.
Clemson took an early 17-7 lead, and that seemed to burst the two-thirds bubble of the purple and gold-coated dome. For a good part of the first half, in fact, it seemed that Clemson was going to extend two incredible stripes:
From 29 to 30, as in his permanent winning streak.
And from 741 to 742, as in the number of days that had passed since the last time the Tigers lost a football match.
Much of this was because Trevor Lawrence, Clemson’s second-year quarterback who entered the game a pristine 24-0 as a chartered starter, was his usual electric being, punching the ball to open receivers, using his legs to diversify Clemson’s offense. That 17-7 advantage certainly caught LSU’s attention.
“We had a bad field position at the beginning, but we started clicking,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron at halftime. “We discovered what they were doing and we started to move football. We had some critical stops with our defense. ”
And even in the middle of the biggest game of his life, Orgeron knew exactly what he was seeing, what he was participating in,
“This,” he said, “is a great soccer game.”
It is good for Orgeron to have a great soccer team, and some of the most talented players in skill position he has ever seen, starting with the winner of the Heisman Trophy, Burrow. For a while, it seemed that Clemson had been able to hijack any special sauce that had kept the Tigers offensive flying all year.
And then, suddenly, LSU regained the game.
The Tigers scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, the last one arrived with 10 seconds left when Burrow connected one to the tight end Thaddeus Moss while absorbing a sharp blow to the ribs.
“We have to play smarter, man,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said at the break, at which time LSU had taken a 28-17 lead. “We have two great teams, and now they are ready. Let’s see how we finish.”
To Clemson’s credit, he did exactly what he had to do to open the second half, forcing LSU to three and out, and quickly followed him with a quick six-play, 50-yard run, Travis Etienne scored from 3 yards. and then Lawrence finds Amari Rodgers for a two-point conversion.
Suddenly, it was 28-25, and Clemson’s third of the Dome was dizzy. That only grew when Clemson forced another trio. Suddenly, the game was very balanced.
And then it wasn’t like that. LSU allowed a first down, and nothing more. He scored on another Burrow-to-Moss connection to reach 35-25, and then two sets later, three minutes in the last quarter, Burrow found Terrace Marshall for his fifth scoring pass of the day. LSU fans could try it now. First title since 2007-08. First unbeaten season from 1958-59. And maybe, just maybe, one of the best teams of all time.