Joe Burrow capped his record-shattering season by passing for five touchdowns and running for one to lead No. 1 LSU to a 42-25 victory over No. 3 Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday night in New Orleans.
Burrow, who won the Heisman Trophy by a record margin, completed 31 of 49 passes for 463 yards and rushed 14 times for 58 yards. He finished the season with NCAA records of 60 touchdown passes and 65 touchdowns accounted for, breaking the marks of 58 and 63, respectively, set by Hawaii’s Colt Brennan in 2006.
“He’s one of the greatest players in LSU history,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said of Burrow, who was selected the game’s Offensive MVP. “He has done so much for the state of Louisiana and LSU. We are so grateful to Joe Burrow.”
LSU completed the first 15-0 season in school history in its first trip to the CFP, which was in its sixth year. The Bayou Bengals won their fourth national championship and first since 2007.
“This is what I have wanted to do since the time I was 5 years old, is to hoist this trophy,” Burrow said. “We weren’t going to let someone come in here and steal this from us in our home state.”
Defending national champion Clemson, which had won two of the last three national titles, finished 14-1 after seeing its 29-game winning streak end.
“It sucks, but we have to look back at what we did,” Clemson sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “We did a lot of great things, and we’ve got a lot more in store. We have to enjoy all the things we accomplished. It was amazing to be a part of what we did.”
Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase caught nine of Burrow’s passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns.
Burrow outdueled Lawrence, the Offensive MVP of last season’s title-game victory over Alabama. Lawrence, who lost for the first time in 26 games as a college starter, completed 18 of 37 passes for 234 yards and didn’t throw for a touchdown, though he did run 1 yard for the game’s first score.
LSU hounded Lawrence into multiple high throws and made key plays by holding Clemson to one third-down conversion in 11 tries.
“We just locked in,” said LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, the game’s Defensive MVP who had 2 1/2 tackles for loss among his eight stops. “We have been dialed in all season. We just wanted to come out and prove to everybody that we’re nothing to play with.”
LSU led 28-17 at halftime, but Travis Etienne’s 3-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass from Lawrence to Amari Rodgers on Clemson’s first possession of the third quarter cut the deficit to three points.
Burrow threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Thaddeus Moss to give LSU a 35-25 lead after three quarters, and he tossed a 24-yarder to Terrace Marshall Jr. with 12:08 left for the game’s final margin. LSU outgained Clemson 628 yards to 394.
“I thought LSU played a beautiful game,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. “I thought their quarterback was tremendous. Their receivers, they made some incredible plays that were really well-covered, several of them. But they just made the play. That’s what you have to do to win these type of games.
“Give them credit. They played a heck of a game and deserved to win the game. They were definitely the better team tonight.”
After Lawrence’s touchdown run midway through the first quarter, Burrow threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Chase to tie the score at the end of the first quarter.
Clemson’s B.T. Potter made a 52-yard field goal, the longest in CFP finals history, and Tee Higgins ran 36 yards on a reverse for touchdown that increased Clemson’s lead to 17-7, marking LSU’s biggest deficit of the season.
Burrow ran 3 yards for a touchdown and threw touchdown passes of 14 yards to Chase and 6 yards to Moss to give LSU an 11-point halftime lead.
“We got down, I think it was 17-7, we knew what we had,” Burrow said. “We had some tough breaks, getting backed up inside the 5 a couple of times. They had a really good plan early. Once we figured out what they were trying to do, our coaches put together a great game plan at halftime, and we started to roll.”
LSU wrapped up a season in which it defeated seven top-10 teams. The Tigers scored 142 points in their final three games — against No. 4 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game, No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl and then Clemson.
“Years of hard work, culminating in one moment with the best group of guys anybody could ask for,” Burrow said. “We worked so hard for this.”