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LSU proves it was better team of Tigers

Dennis Brunson
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 1/15/20

The Clemson Tigers know exactly how the Louisiana State Tigers feel today.

Clemson proved itself to be the best football team in the country in 2018 with a resounding 44-16 victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff national …

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LSU proves it was better team of Tigers

Posted

The Clemson Tigers know exactly how the Louisiana State Tigers feel today.

Clemson proved itself to be the best football team in the country in 2018 with a resounding 44-16 victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game. On Monday, LSU proved itself to be the best team in 2019 with a 42-25 victory over a game, but out-manned, Clemson squad.

The Bayou Bengals, who finished with a perfect 15-0 record and ended Clemson's 29-game winning streak, were simply better. There's really no other way to state it.

While Clemson dominated Alabama last year, it made LSU work hard to win the school's fourth national title, its first since 2007. Still, this was LSU's year, no doubt about it, and it ended it with an exclamation point.

There have been many magical stories over the 150 years of college football, but it's hard to top what this year ended up being for LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. He had a good year last season after coming to Baton Rouge as a graduate transfer, but he did nothing to suggest what was coming.

Burrow won the Heisman Trophy and finished with a record 60 touchdown passes. The old record holder, Hawaii's Colt Brennan, had to feel pretty good that his record would stand as LSU prepared for the CFP. After all, Burrow only had 48 TD passes at that point. Seven scoring passes against Oklahoma in a 63-28 semifinal win and another five against Clemson took care of that.

Counting the Southeastern Conference championship game, a 37-10 win over Georgia, Burrow threw for 1,305 yards and 16 touchdowns with no interceptions in LSU's final three games. For the record, Burrow passed for 5,671 yards and 60 scores against just six picks. Perhaps even more amazing, he threw 527 passes and only 125 of them were incomplete. That's just how ridiculous his season was.

Clemson came out being aggressive defensively, as one would expect with defensive coordinator Brent Venables, The strategy worked really well for the first few series, but Burrow never showed any signs of panic, the LSU coaching staff made adjustments and the offense got into a groove that Clemson could not really slow down.

In all honesty though, it wasn't as if Clemson was playing terribly on defense. The Clemson cornerbacks went one-on-one with the LSU wide receivers and they -- Ja'Marr Chase in particular -- made them pay by getting behind them. However, the two scoring passes to Chase were put in a box where only Chase could make the catch -- and neither was a difficult catch to make. The same can be said for his scoring toss to Terrace Marshall Jr.

Burrow's protege, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, is likely the better National Football League prospect, but he did not play well on Monday. He completed just 18 of 37 passes for 234 yards. Lawrence's passes were scattered, especially in the second half.

I don't think there's any doubt LSU's defensive push up front caused Lawrence problems, even though he was just sacked twice. However, he wasn't steady in the pocket; that doesn't mean Lawrence panicked, he just didn't have as much time, and the Clemson wide receivers had a hard time getting separation against the LSU DBs.

Despite coming up short, it's hard for Clemson to view this season as a disappointment. That was its fourth title game appearance in five years, and Clemson is 2-2. The way it is set up in recruiting and with no challenger seemingly facing it in the Atlantic Coast Conference in the immediate future, Clemson looks to be set for a few more CFP appearances.

On Monday though, it was simply the second best team on the field.