Last night wasn’t a banner one for the Clemson football dynasty. The Tigers fell to SEC power LSU 42-25 in the National Championship.
Clemson, the defending national champion, jumped out to an early 17-7 lead. LSU turned it on to end the half, with Joe Burrow scoring three straight touchdowns after Clemson’s final score of the half, to go up 28-17.
Dabo Swinney’s team got off to a fast start in the second half, forcing back-to-back LSU three-and-outs, and cutting the lead to three with a touchdown on its first drive. Unfortunately, that was the end of Clemson’s real challenge on Monday night.
The team was held to just 65 total yards on its final five drives, punting four times and fumbling the ball away at the end of the game. Burrow got red hot to end the game, and put things away.
Entering the game, one of the major storylines was Burrow vs. Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who most consider the more talented prospect, and the likely No. 1 pick in 2021. On Monday night, it wasn’t particularly close though.
Burrow accounted for well over 500 total yards and six touchdowns. Lawrence ran for one score, but was just 18-for-37 for 234 yards. He did not throw a touchdown in the game, and sailed numerous throws on the night. It was maybe the worst that Lawrence has looked in his college career, though Dave Aranda’s LSU defense proved to be a much bigger challenge than many gave them credit for.
After the game, the quarterback was hard on himself for the performance, saying that he “missed too many plays” and that it wasn’t his night.
The loss probably stings for many Clemson fans, but they should be able to move past it. The team is no stranger to losing title games, which is to say that they are in it so often now, it is reasonable to believe that things will continue on a crazy upward trajectory. Lawrence will return next year, Dabo isn’t going anywhere, and the program and school continue to be deeply invested in success. Throw in a crazy recruiting class, and things will be fine for Clemson.
Athletic director Dan Radakovich said as much after the loss. He took to Twitter to congratulate LSU, as well as his own team for another great season.
Congratulations to LSU on an excellent game and a storybook season.
I'm very proud of Coach Swinney, our coaches and staff and our student-athletes for how they handled themselves last night and all year. They represent our university so well.
The best is yet to come! pic.twitter.com/uf9NpXId9e
— Dan Radakovich (@ClemsonDRad) January 14, 2020
Clemson is already set to be the favorite to win the title entering the 2020 season. Given the talent that the Tigers return, you can probably lightly pencil them in for a College Football Playoff spot until further notice.