Justin Jefferson

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LSU up to five early entrants for now


Just a short while ago we ran a story on LSU’s first two of 13 possible early entrants into the NFL draft, safety Grant Delpit and linebacker Patrick Queen.

Go ahead and make it five.

In what has become Draft Declaration Day in Baton Rouge, three Tigers on Wednesday put their name in the 2020 NFL Draft: center Lloyd Cushenberry, wide receiver Justin Jefferson and linebacker Jacob Phillips.

Cushenberry’s departure means LSU will replace the entire interior of its offensive line, as left guard Adrian Magee and right guard Damien Lewis were both seniors. Tackles Saahdiq Charles and Austin Deculus were both juniors this past season and could join Cushenberry in the conga line out of the LSU football facility, though both are expected to return at this time.

Like Cushenberry, the loss of Phillips means LSU loses a good player at an impact position. Easily LSU’s leading tackler with 113, Phillips and Queen’s departures means the Tigers will replace both inside linebackers heading into 2020.

Jefferson is the best known of the three, but his departure will be the easiest to swallow. The junior led LSU with 111 catches, going for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns, but NFL rules mean Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall are required to return for one more season. .

(LSU’s fourth and fifth-leading receivers, tight end Thaddeus Moss and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, are both expected to declare, though neither has announced anything as of press time.

WATCH: Odell Beckham Jr. hands out cash to LSU players following title win

Odell Beckham LSU
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At least when it comes to Odell Beckham, it pays to be an LSU football player.

Ahead of his alma mater’s College Football Playoff championship game appearance against Clemson, Odell Beckham sent members of the LSU team new Beats headphones as well as a motivational message.  That did not constitute an NCAA violation.

Following his alma mater’s resounding win over Clemson that earned the football program it’s first national championship since 2007, Odell Beckham was seen gleefully handing out wads of cash to at least two LSU football players.  Does that constitute an NCAA violation?  The Association will be the judge, we assume.

The first player in the video is Justin Jefferson, a junior wide receiver expected by some to leave LSU early for the 2020 NFL Draft.  The second on the receiving end of a proverbial “$100 handshake” is Jontre Kirklin, a junior wide receiver who is expected to return to the Tigers in 2020.

Here’s to guessing that this isn’t the last of this story, however innocuous the gesture was, that we’ll hear about in the coming hours and days.

One final note: OBJ was in rare celebratory form on the night as, in the raucous postgame locker room, he stated he is going to sell Jefferson’s game-used cleats for a sizable chunk of change.

LSU makes a strong case for best college football season ever

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It may sound almost unorthodox to throw LSU in the conversation for the best team in college football history, but the Tigers certainly left their mark on the college football world during the 2019 season. It may take years to truly realize just how special a season those in Baton Rouge experienced this past season, but the record books and accomplishments along the way will be tough to beat.

As far as individual accomplishments go, LSU players rewrote the school record book, the SEC record book, and etched their places in the NCAA record books. It started with Joe Burrow turning in a truly historic season. Burrow ran away with the Heisman Trophy and a handful of other college football awards. And that was before Burrow set a new NCAA record for most touchdowns thrown in a single season (60) with his five-touchdown performance in the national championship game against the defending national champion Clemson Tigers, who a year ago had shredded Alabama.

Burrow didn’t do it all alone. He had a Biletnikoff Award winner in Ja'Marr Chase to throw too. Chase set his own individual record in the national championship game with 216 receiving yards. Justin Jefferson also had over 1,400 receiving yards, giving LSU one of the most lethal 1-2 wide receiver combos college football has seen. The addition of Broyles Award winner Joe Brady to the staff from the New Orleans Saints was a game-changer, and a program-changer, for LSU. And of course, Ed Orgeron managed to silence any remaining doubters who have crossed his path.

Put aside the individual accolades though, of which there were plenty, and you will find an LSU team that built one of the most impressive seasons to date. At the time the games were played, each of LSU’s seven ranked opponents during the season were ranked inside the top 10, including each of the last three on the schedule. LSU made their first national championship noise with an early road win against No. 9 Texas, in which Burrow had one of his many Heisman Trophy moments in sealing the game with a touchdown pass.  LSU later pummeled No. 7 Florida in Death Valley, 42-28. In late October and into November, LSU faced No. 9 Auburn and then No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa and managed to win each game. Those were the closest calls for LSU all season long.

LSU then put up 50 or more points in each of their next three games, dominated No. 4 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game (37-10) and then put up a playoff record 63 point son Big 12 champion Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl for the semifinal round. And to put the cherry on top, LSU overcame a sluggish offensive start to pull away from Clemson, 42-25, to claim the national championship game. Seven games against top 10 teams, won by a cumulative score of 298-190.

LSU’s stockpile of accomplishments this season is tough to beat. If there was one slight against them, it would be the defense when compared to some other great college football teams (2001 Miami, for example), but there would be no way this offense would not score points against even some of the best defenses of all time. So let the debate begin as the college football world tries to figure out just where LSU’s 2019 season ranks in the 150-year (and counting) history of the game.

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.

LSU takes control late as thrilling national title game against Clemson hits halftime

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Tigers vs. Tigers? Oh my.

No. 3 Clemson looked unfazed on the big stage once again as they traded blows with No. 1 LSU in a thrilling start to the National Championship Game in New Orleans. It was, however, the local Tigers who hit the locker room up 21-17 in a contest that is more than living up to its historic billing as a heavyweight fight for the sport’s ultimate prize.

While things started off rather slow with four straight punts to open things up, eventually Clemson signal-caller Trevor Lawrence started to find a bit of a groove. The sophomore with an undefeated record in orange and white continued to impress with his legs in opening up scoring with a short one yard touchdown scamper. He wasn’t too shabby with his arm either in throwing for 176 yards though did miss a handful of throws that could have made things even more interesting at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Still, the ACC champions were able to send a shiver up the spine of the very favorable home crowd by taking a two score lead on LSU for the first time all season. Even B.T. Potter, who previously entered the game as a bit shaky from the kicking spot, was ice cold in drilling a 52-yarder.

But eventually Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow went all, well, Joe Burrow. Escaping a number of difficult blitz situations he wound up rushing for a team-high 55 yards and a touchdown of his own all while dropping dimes ot the tune of 270 yards and three scores through the air. Two of those trips to the end zone game in beautifully placed passes into the arms of Ja'Marr Chase, who seemed to take over for Peach Bowl hero Justin Jefferson by hauling in six for 162 yards.

Tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire was not quite as productive as we’ve seen him at times but still turned the game around with several big plays in the second quarter to give the Tigers tons of momentum heading into the locker room for a break from the title track meet.

Clemson has been in this position before, including in their semifinal against Ohio State, and turned things around. Can they do it again or will LSU be hoisting yet another trophy just down the road from campus? Regardless how things turn out, expect plenty of second half fireworks down the stretch.