Justyn Ross

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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.

College Football Preview: Clemson-LSU Tale of the Tape

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Another college football preview? Yes, another college football preview, although this comes ahead of a title game that some think has the potential to be the greatest since the Texas-USC classic that determined the 2005 champion.

If this one comes even remotely close to that Vince Young-fueled thriller? Sign me up.

WHO
No. 3 Clemson (14-0) vs. No. 1 LSU (14-0)

WHAT
The College Football Playoff National Championship Game

WHEN
8:00 p.m. ET (8:17 p.m. ET kickoff)

WHERE
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, Louisiana

WHY
Clemson: Beat Ohio State 29-23 in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl
LSU: Beat Oklahoma 63-28 in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Peach Bowl

HEAD COACHES
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (130-30 in 12 seasons with the Tigers; two national championships)
LSU’s Ed Orgeron (39-9 in four seasons with the Tigers, 55-36 overall)

STATISTICAL LEADERS
Clemson
Passing: Trevor Lawrence, 250-370 (67.6%), 3,431 yards, 36 touchdowns, eight interceptions, sacked 15 times
Rushing: Travis Etienne, 1,536 yards, 18 touchdowns
Receiving: Justyn Ross, 61 receptions; Tee Higgins, 1,115 yards, 13 touchdowns
Punt returns: Amari Rodgers, 9.4 yards per on 16 returns
Kick returns: Joseph Ngata, 23.2 yards per on 14 returns
Punting: Will Spiers, 42.8 yards per, 15 of 44 punts inside the 20
Kicking: B.T. Potter, 12-20 field goals, long of 51; 77-77 extra points
Tackles: James Skalski, 99
Tackles for loss: Isaiah Simmons, 14
Sacks: Simmons, seven
QB Hits: Simmons, 14
Interceptions: Tanner Muse, four
Passes breakups: K’Von Wallace, 10

LSU
Passing: Joe Burrow, 371-478 (77.6%), 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns, six interceptions, sacked 29 times
Rushing: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 1,304 yards, 16 touchdowns
Receiving: Justin Jefferson, 102 receptions; Ja'Marr Chase, 1,559 yards; Chase and Jefferson, 18 touchdowns
Punt returns: Derek Stingley Jr., 9.73 per on 15 returns; Trey Palmer, Micah Baskerville, one touchdown each
Kick returns: Edwards-Helaire, 21.4 per on 10 returns
Punting: Zach Von Rosenberg, 42.5 yards per, 18 of 40 inside the 20
Kicking: Cade York, 21-26 field goals, long of 52; 83-87 extra points
Tackles: Jacob Phillips, 105
Tackles for loss: K’Lavon Chaisson, 13½
Sacks: Chaisson, 6½
QB Hits: Chaisson, six
Interceptions: Stingley Jr., six
Passes breakups: Stingly Jr., 15

STATISTICAL MATCHUPS

  • LSU’s 60th-ranked rush offense (167 ypg) vs. Clemson’s 15th-ranked run defense (112.6 ypg)
  • Clemson’s 11th-ranked rush offense (246.1 ypg) vs. Alabama’s 20th-ranked run defense (118 ypg)
  • LSU’s 2nd-ranked pass offense (397.2 ypg) vs. Clemson’s top-ranked pass defense (151.5 ypg)
  • Clemson’s 19th-ranked pass offense (292.2 ypg) vs. LSU’s 56th-ranked pass defense (221.9 ypg)
  • LSU’s top-ranked scoring offense (48.9 ppg) vs. Clemson’s top-ranked scoring defense (11.5 ppg)
  • Clemson’s 4th-ranked scoring offense (45.3 ppg) vs. LSU’s 29th-ranked scoring defense (21.6 ppg)

COMMON OPPONENTS
Texas A&M
Clemson won 24-10 Sept. 7 in Clemson, LSU won 50-7 Nov. 30 in Baton Rouge.

LOSSES
None for either team as this will mark the second time in the six-year history of the College Football Playoff that two undefeated teams will be playing in the national championship game. This will, though, mark back-to-back years both teams have been undefeated.

STREAKS
Clemson — Won 29 straight (last loss: 24-6 to Alabama in a 2017 College Football Playoff semifinal)
LSU — Won 15 straight (last loss: 74-72 to Texas A&M in seven overtimes in 2018 regular-season finale)

PORTFOLIO
Wins vs. bowl teams: Clemson 9, LSU 10
Wins vs. current CFP Top 25 teams: Clemson 2, LSU 5
Wins in true road games: Clemson 5, LSU 5
Wins by 10-plus points: Clemson 12, LSU 11
Wins by 20-plus points: Clemson 11, LSU 10
Wins by 30-plus points: Clemson 11, LSU 6
Wins by 40-plus points: Clemson 6, LSU 3

THE LINE
Clemson, +6 (opened +5½)
Over/under, 69

Trevor Lawrence intercepted twice, but No. 3 Clemson leading at Louisville

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It appears No. 3 Clemson could be in for a bit of a tougher road battle than originally anticipated. The heavy road favorites lead Louisville 17-3 at halftime in a game that has seen the Tigers turn the football over twice in the red zone. Fortunately for Clemson, the defense has a pair of takeaways to make up for the offensive miscues.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has now been intercepted eight times this season, doubling his entire interception total from the 2018 season. Jack Fagot and Russ Yeast have each come up with picks off the star quarterback. Lawrence may not have been the starting quarterback for the Tigers to begin last season, but his increased interception total is something to keep an eye on as the season continues.

Fortunately for Clemson, the sophomore quarterback doesn’t take long to remind those watching just how good he really can be. Lawrence led Clemson to a touchdown drive in the second quarter with a big gain by Amari Rodgers on a 61-yard pass. A pass on third and goal to freshman Joe Ngata by Lawrence ended the drive with Ngata jumping high to come down with the ball in the back of the end zone. Lawrence’s second touchdown of the half came shortly before halftime with a toss-up brought down by Justyn Ross.

While the Louisville defense is doing everything it can to keep this game from getting out of hand, the Cardinals absolutely need to find ways to protect the football better and get some more drives going. Against this Clemson defense, that is much easier said than done. But the game may be playing out the way Louisville needs it to if they are going to push Clemson down to the wire the way North Carolina did earlier this season.

No. 2 Clemson hammers Florida State for fifth straight series win, second straight blowout

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There was a time when the Clemson-Florida State game was the premier series in the ACC and, arguably, all of college football. Those days are long gone.

No. 2 Clemson hammered an overwhelmed Florida State team, 45-14, securing their fifth straight win in this series and their second consecutive blowout, following last year’s 59-10 whipping in Tallahassee last season.

Trevor Lawrence accounted for four first-half touchdowns, hitting Travis Etienne for one and Justyn Ross for two and rushing for another, to stake the Tigers (6-0, 4-0 ACC) to a 28-0 halftime lead. He finished the day a modest 17-of-25 for 170 yards while rushing six times for 40 yards. (Lawrence did throw another interception, his sixth of the season.)

Etienne rushed 17 times for 127 yards, and as a team Clemson charged for 297 yards and two touchdowns on 50 carries.

Florida State’s quarterbacks had little success throwing the ball and their offensive line had less success protecting them. Alex Hornibrook went 8-of-12 for 84 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while James Blackman was 6-of-17 for 38 yards and two interceptions.

Cam Akers led FSU (3-3, 2-2 ACC) on the ground with nine carries for 34 yards.

No. 2 Clemson having its way with Florida State through one half

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No. 2 Clemson leads Florida State 28-0 at the half, and the game is every bit as lopsided as the score indicates.

The Tigers have out-gained the ‘Noles 358-34 and lead in first downs, 19-2.

Trevor Lawrence has accounted for all four touchdowns, opening the scoring with a 3-yard toss to Travis Etienne, then rushing in from eight yards out to give Clemson a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

In the second frame, Lawrence hit Justyn Ross twice, from 10 and eight yards. He finished the half 17-of-25 for 170 yards with three touchdowns and an interception while rushing six times for 40 yards and a score. Etienne carried 13 times for 89 yards.

If there is one coaching point for Clemson, it’s that the Tigers did blow a fourth-and-goal run and a short field goal just before the end of the half.

Florida State has played both quarterbacks, and both of them have been intercepted. James Blackman was 4-of-11 for 33 yards and an interception, and Alex Hornibrook was 4-of-5 for 12 yards and a pick. But wait, there’s more: Florida State also ran the ball eight times for minus-2 yards.