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College football national championship 2020: LSU dethrones Clemson, Joe Burrow caps historic season

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LSU has become the first No. 1 seed to win the College Football Playoff, and Joe Burrow is the first Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback to win a national title in the playoff era. LSU pulled away from Clemson, 42-25, to snap Clemson’s 29-game winning streak and dethrone the defending national champions.

But how did it all happen?  Scroll through the story below for our tick-tock the 2020 College Football National title game.


8:19 PM ET: The game has finally started (promptly at 8:19 p.m. ET) with Clemson getting the ball first. On the first play from scrimmage, Clemson tried rolling out a bit of a trick play to catch LSU off guard, but there was no fooling LSU. Trevor Lawrence responded to the busted first play by connecting with Justyn Ross for a 35-yard gain on the next play. But Clemson’s first drive stalled thanks in part to LSU’s Grant Delpit blowing up the middle for a sack of Lawrence on third down, forcing a Clemson punt. A fun pace to the start of this one, with the Heisman Trophy winner and the explosive LSU offense heading to the field.

Home-field advantage for LSU in New Orleans? Naturally.

As expected, President Donald Trump is attending tonight’s game, and he received a healthy ovation from the fans in New Orleans.

8:41 PM ET: For a couple of offenses have been lighting thing sup this season, this game has been all about the defense so far, especially Clemson’s. LSU has been pinned back against their end zone on each of their first two possessions and have had no room to work with a pair of three-and-outs to get started. Isaiah Simmons has ben a handle for the LSU offensive line early on.

8:48 PM ET: We have a touchdown! The third drive was the charm for the Clemson Tigers as Trevor Lawrence finished off the best possession of the game with a short touchdown run. Lawrence took off to the right side of the line as the LSU defense focused on Travis Etienne, who nearly scored on the previous play, and Lawrence was untouched into the end zone for the first score of the game.

9:01 PM ET: We have ourselves a tied ballgame! Joe Burrow finally got some room to breathe and it paid off in a big way. Burrow completed a 52-yard touchdown to Ja'Marr Chase to draw the game even at 7-7 late in the first quarter.

9:06 PM ET: We have reached the end of the first quarter, with LSU and Clemson tied 7-7. It took LSU a while to get its offense some room to work, while Clemson has had to punt a couple of times in LSU territory. Will that come back to haunt Dabo Swinney and his Clemson Tigers? We’ll see later on. But for now, we have a pretty good pace going with some good defense on display on both sides.

9:11 PM ET: Oh, you thought college kickers couldn’t kick? Well guess again. Clemson’s B.T. Potter, who converted on just 12 of 20 field goal attempts coming into the night, just booted a 52-yard field goal early in the second quarter to regain the lead for Clemson. Clemson is up 10-7.

9:26 PM ET: Tee Higgins just provided our early leader for play of the night. Higgins took off on a misdirection play for a 36-yard touchdown that saw him bump off a defender, keep his toes in bounds, and diving into the end zone for a big touchdown.

Clemson took a 17-7 lead with the Higgins score, but LSU quickly responded. A 56-yard pass from Burrow to Chase quickly put the LSU Tigers near the end zone, eventually leading to a third and goal. LSU just called timeout to think things over a bit. That gives us all a chance to catch our breath.

9:33 PM ET: After the timeout, Joe Burrow decided to keep it himself and plunge forward for a short touchdown run. LSU really needed that answer after Clemson took a 10-point lead. And just like that, we have a 17-14 game in favor of Clemson before hitting the midway point of the second quarter. The offenses have taken over folks, so get ready for a track meet now.

9:50 PM ET: LSU has taken its first lead of the night, and who else but Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase doing the honors. The two connected on a 14-yard pas sin the red zone to give LSU a 21-17 lead, officially pulling out of a 17-7 hole earlier in the quarter.

Chase has caught five passes for 147 yards and two scores and we still have a full half and more to play tonight. Burrow is now up over 240 yards with the two touchdowns after getting through a rough start to the game.

10:12 PM ET: Wow. OK then. Already leading 21-17, Joe Burrow and LSU picked up one last huge touchdown just before halftime, and a gutsy decision to run by Burrow gave the Tigers a chance for a significant touchdown.

A quick and easy pass to a standing Thaddeus Moss put LSU up 28-17 at the half. Check out Bryan Fischer’s halftime post for his thoughts from the first half in New Orleans.

10:38 PM ET: And we’re back! LSU has the football to start the second half.

10:46 PM ET: Clemson really could not have had much of a better start to the second half. After forcing the LSU off the field quickly to start the half, and with LSU getting called for interfering with the fielding of the punt return, Clemson start their first possession of the half at midfield. A few plays, and a 15-yard face mask penalty on LSU, Clemson was in the end zone with Travis Etienne just crossing the goal line on a short run. A two-point conversion and we have ourselves a three-point game. LSU is leading, 28-25, less than five minutes into the first half.

The game is also approaching the over, for those who are paying close enough attention.

11:05 pm ET: Clemson wide receiver just jogged his way back to the locker room area midway through the third quarter. Earlier in the quarter, Higgins took a good shot on a pass play to his thigh area. For now, there is no update on his status for the rest of this game, but that would be a tough loss for Clemson if Higgins is unavailable for any extended period of time.

11:16 PM ET: Clemson’s defense just lost a player too. James Skalski was ejected from the game for targeting on a pass to LSU’s Justin Jefferson inside the Clemson 10-yard line. He was forced to leave and watch the rest of the game from the locker room. One play later, LSU extended its lead with Joe Burrow coming to a touchdown pass to Thaddeus Moss for a 35-25 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has already set a new College Football Playoff National Championship Game record with 218 receiving yards, eclipsing Alabama tight end O.J. Mayo‘s 208 yards from 2016. He has plenty of time to add to that record.

And speaking of records, Joe Burrow now owns a new single-season touchdown record all by himself.

11:32 PM ET: The third quarter has come to a close, with LSU leading Clemson 35-25. If you are on the east coast, we will get through this together.

11:40 PM ET: Never count out a champion, but LSU may have just put Clemson to bed. Joe Burrow’s 60th (60th!!!) touchdown pass of the season went to Terrace Marshall Jr. early in the fourth quarter to extend the LSU lead to 42-25. With 12:08 left to play, Clemson has a lot of work to do.

Burrow is now up to 442 passing yards with five touchdowns, plus 60 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. He is easily on his way to MVP honors in this game.

Oh, we also have now hit the over in this game. That was an easy pick to make.

12:12 AM ET: LSU pretty much had this game locked up, but a fumble by Trevor Lawrence late in the fourth quarter has allowed LSU to start milking the clock. With 90 seconds to play, LSU is about to win its first national championship of the playoff era.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 staff taking 10-percent pay cut

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The Big 12 isn’t immune to the financial difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic.

On the first day of this month, Iowa State announced a one-year reduction in pay and bonuses for all of its coaches.  Athletic directors at Oregon (HERE) and Wyoming (HERE) are taking cuts in pay.  Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who reportedly made north of $5 million a year ago, is taking a 20-percent pay cut.

Thursday, Scott’s Big 12 counterpart, Bob Bowlsby, confirmed that he will be taking a 10-percent cut in pay through the end of this year.  That pay cut will also apply to the other staff in the conference’s office.  The commissioner also highlighted other cost-saving initiatives the league will undertake.

“We’ve eliminated all year-end bonuses and are formulating a reduced scope of operation plan that saves quite a bit of money, but we’re a relatively small operation,” Bowlsby stated. “Most of our resources are passed through to our members.”

Related to the financial ramifications of the pandemic, Bowlsby also expressed concern about “whether or not we can have a full and robust season.”

“Virtually every program is highly reliant on football revenue,” the commissioner told ESPN.com. “We’re making lots of contingency plans, but if you don’t get the anticipated number of games in, you lose the donations, you lose the sponsorships, you lose the gate receipts and you lose the TV. It’s potentially very impactful.”

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain — unless you’re Dabo Swinney or Mike Gundy — when the 2020 college football season will start.  Or if it will even start.  There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving.  January has been floated as a possibility as well.  So has the spring of next year.

The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion.

Florida, Michigan, Ole Miss among 20-plus schools to contact Mississippi State transfer who didn’t take kindly to Mike Leach tweet

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Suffice to say, there’s a significant market for one soon-to-be-former Mississippi State football player.

In the wake of first-year head coach Mike Leach‘s much-discussed tweet, Fabien Lovett announced that he would be transferring out of the Mississippi State football program.  The defensive lineman’s father subsequently confirmed that the tweet played a role in his son’s decision.

Speaking to 247Sports.com, Lovett stated that he has been in contact with more than 20 schools since he tweeted he was entering the portal.  Among the Power Five programs who have reached out include Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Oregon, Ole Miss and Tennessee.  Houston is also a school with which Lovett confirmed contact.

Schools are now permitted to contact prospective transfers without receiving permission from the player’s current school.

At this point, it’s unclear when Lovett will make a decision.  Or to where he will transfer.  It should be noted that, during his first recruitment, he took official visits to Florida and Ole Miss.

Lovett did allow that he would prefer to make visits before he decides on a new college football home.  Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA has banned all in-person recruiting until at least May 31.  That would preclude Lovett from making a visit, official or otherwise, until June 1 at the earliest.

It’s thought that Lovett would have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves to another FBS program.  However, he is expected to file an appeal for an immediate eligibility waiver.  It’s believed that he will use the Leach tweet as the basis for his appeal.

Lovett was a three-star 2018 signee.  He was rated as the No. 7 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi.

The past two seasons, Lovett appeared in 15 games.  13 of those appearances came in 2019.  A year ago, the defensive end was credited with 19 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and a sack.

Because he appeared in four or fewer games in 2018, Lovett was able to take a redshirt for that season.  Depending on how the waiver appeal turns out, Lovett would have either three years of eligibility starting in 2020 or two starting in 2021.

Baylor DE transfer Deonte Williams commits to Florida State

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A loss for Baylor will turn into a gain for the Florida State football program.

Earlier this offseason, Deonte Williams signaled his intention to leave Waco by entering the NCAA transfer database. Monday, Williams indicated on Twitter that he received a scholarship offer from FSU. Two days later, on the same social media service, the defensive end announced that he has committed to the Florida State football team.

Williams has a familial connection to Florida State as his father, Alphonso, played his college football for the Seminoles. His father played with Odell Haggins, the longtime FSU assistant who was retained by new head coach Mike Norvell.

During the 2018 season, Williams suffered a significant fracture in his arm. Williams sat out the 2019 season after “[m]e and my dad decided to take the medical DQ to have time to think about my future moving forward,” he told 247Sports.com. A few months later, he entered the portal.

A three-star 2016 signee, Williams was rated as the No. 37 outside linebacker in the country. The Plano, Tex., product took a redshirt as a true freshman. He started four of the nine games in which he played in 2017, then played in the first seven games the following season before the arm injury in a game against Texas.

Nov. 3, Florida State announced that Willie Taggart was out as the program’s head football coach. A month later, Norvell was hired away from Memphis as Taggart’s replacement.

Including Williams, Norvell has added five Power Five transfers since he arrived at FSU, which is coming off back-to-back sub-.500 seasons for the first time since 1975-76.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on April 9, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Alabama, Oklahoma announce future home-and-home
THE SYNOPSIS: You’ll have to wait a while for this matchup of college football bluebloods, though.  The Crimson Tide will travel to Norman Sept. 11, 2032. Then, the Sooners will make the trek to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 10 of the following season.  The last regular-season meeting came in 2003.  Their last two games (2014, 2018)came in the College Football Playoffs.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Kobe Bryant given No. 24 USC football jersey by Clay Helton
THE SYNOPSIS: Nearly two years later, the 41-year-old NBA Hall of Famer, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Report: Ole Miss blocking Shea Patterson’s appeal for immediate eligibility at Michigan
THE SYNOPSIS: Ole Miss’ petulance lasted nearly through the month of April.  In the end, however, the quarterback was granted a waiver by the NCAA.  In two seasons with the Wolverines, Patterson threw for 5,661 yards, 45 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Yet another Oklahoma quarterback arrested for public intoxication
THE SYNOPSIS: Chris Robison was the second Sooners signal-caller popped for being drunk in public.  The first?  Future Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Dabo Swinney names a favorite to replace QB Deshaun Watson out of spring game
THE SYNOPSIS: Kelly Bryant did indeed take over for Watson at Clemson.  That hold on the job lasted one season as, after the emergence of Trevor Lawrence, Bryant transferred to Missouri in December of 2018.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Report: UNLV considering building football stadium near the Strip
THE SYNOPSIS: Two years later, it was confirmed that the new home of the NFL’s Raiders will also serve as the college football Rebels’ new digs.  That stadium in Las Vegas is still set to open this year.

2014

THE HEADLINE: NCAA football attendance topped 50 million in 2013
THE SYNOPSIS: The exact figure was 50,291,275, including bowl attendance of 1.7 million fans.  By 2018, FBS attendance had dipped to 36,707,511.  The NCAA has yet to release its attendance figures for the 2019 season.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Report: ‘Noles-Irish game set for 2014
THE SYNOPSIS: That game came to fruition, with Florida State claiming a 31-27 win.  Notre Dame whipped FSU 42-13 in the next meeting in South Bend.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Officer report: ‘I do not know Jessica Dorrell and I have never met her’
THE SYNOPSIS: Pinocchio Petrino just kept stepping into it deeper and deeper.