NEW ORLEANS – Eight years after a disastrous performance in its last National Championship game, No. 1 LSU (15-0) found redemption, defeating No. 3 Clemson 42-25.
LSU’s offense led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase quickly put to bed any memories of the 2012 National Championship game against Alabama, in which LSU failed to score and struggled to cross midfield.
The senior quarterback and sophomore receiver connected on a 52-yard touchdown late in the first quarter to tie the score at seven, quickly besting the effort from the 2011 LSU team.
“I think it's magical, I really do,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron. “I think when we saw the National Championship would be in the Superdome at the beginning of the year we set our target on that, although we did not talk about it. We felt once we come in the Superdome we'd come out victorious because of the home-field advantage.”
However, the home-field advantage became subdued as Clemson fired back with 10 points to take a 17-7 lead. The 10-point deficit was the largest LSU had faced all season.
Clemson (14-1) stifled LSU’s offense early by pinning LSU deep in its own territory and using an array of blitzes, but as it had done throughout the year, LSU’s offense responded. Coming into Monday, LSU offense scored 172 points immediately following an opposing score.
Burrow credited Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables for his game plan and said he struggled to identify where the blitzes were coming from. Eventually, LSU found a weak spot in Clemson’s coverage, realizing Clemson was playing Chase man-to-man with one defender.
So Burrow went back to Chase, completing a 56-yard pass to Clemson’s three-yard line. Three plays later, Burrow kept the ball on a quarterback draw for a touchdown.
Two consecutive defensive stops sparked back-to-back touchdowns for LSU before halftime, giving it a 28-17 lead. Burrow finished the first half with 270 yards and three touchdowns on 16-of-28 passing and added 55 yards rushing on eight carries.
Chase totaled 162 yards and two touchdowns on six catches in the opening half. The two touchdowns gave Chase 20 total on the season, and Burrow tied the NCAA single-season passing touchdown record with 58.
Clemson’s Travis Etienne scored his lone touchdown on the Tigers opening drive of the second half, and a two-point conversion cut LSU’s lead to 28-25.
Etienne struggled to make an impact for the rest of the night as LSU junior linebacker Patrick Queen was tasked with slowing down the All-American. Queen had eight tackles, including two for a loss in the quarter, and finished with eight total tackles, 2.5 for a loss and half a sack.
“You know, at the end of the first half, Coach O sat us down, calmed us down,” said Queen, who was named defensive MVP. “We was really anxious being out there, so we just all gathered together and played team defense.”
Burrow broke the touchdown record later in the third quarter on a four-yard pass to junior tight end Thaddeus Moss. He added a fifth passing in the fourth quarter on a 24-yard pass to sophomore receiver Terrace Marshall.
Named the offensive MVP, Burrow finished with 463 yards on 31-of-49 passing and six total touchdowns to go along with 58 yards rushing.
With four minutes to go, junior safety Grant Delpit forced a fumble that was recovered by freshman cornerback Derek Stingley, all but sealing the victory for LSU.
It’s LSU’s fourth official national title in program history, all of which were played in New Orleans, and the Tigers’ first since 2007. The 15-0 record for LSU is a program best, and it joins 2018 Clemson as the lone teams to finish 15-0.
“You know, I think what we did tonight can't be taken away from us,” Burrow said. “I don't know about the whole hero thing, but I know this National Championship will be remembered for a long time in Louisiana. To do it in New Orleans is even more special. This is going to be remembered for a long time.”