ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, right, celebrates with wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. after scoring against Clemson during the first half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

This story was updated at 6:32 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

It appears that the Louisiana State University Tigers are exactly who we thought they were, which is the best college football team in the land.

Any squad less than that surely would have collapsed against defending national champion Clemson on Monday night in the College Football Playoff championship game rather than rolling to a 42-25 victory.

After all, the orange-and-purple Tigers had purple-and-gold Tigers down 10 points (17-7) in the opening half and Clemson had won 29 games in a row at the start of this one.

Beyond that, the Bayou Bengals hadn't trailed by as many as 10 points a single time all season. When Clemson had similarly stung Alabama on this same championship stage a year ago, the Crimson Tide crumbled, eventually being overrun by 28 embarrassing points.

some text
LSU celebrates after their win against Clemson in a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

But not LSU. Especially not quarterback Joe Burrow, who may have produced the best two performances in college football history after winning the Heisman Trophy. With his five touchdown passes against Clemson, coupled with his seven TD tosses in the semifinal rout of Oklahoma, his two-game playoff total includes 12 touchdown passes and two touchdown runs.

Yep, he's pretty good.

Or as ESPN commentator Chris Fowler observed after watching Burrow scramble out of trouble to complete another remarkable pass: "Sometimes it's just not fair someone can make a play like that on the run."

Clemson fans will no doubt say it wasn't fair that the Pac-12 officiating crew booted linebacker James Skalski out of the game for targeting in the third quarter. That is their right and targeting remains perhaps the most divisive, controversial call in the sport.

But for those who believe in karma, Ohio State fans surely would be quick to point out that one could argue that the only reason the orange-and-purple Tigers were in this championship game was because the Buckeyes' sensational defender Shaun Wade was booted for targeting in the second quarter of that game with OSU leading 16-0 at the time.

some text
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow passes against Clemson during the second half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Every targeting call is different. Every game is different. Clemson might have rallied against OSU with Young on the field. But that ejection seemed to instantly energize the Tigers and zap the Buckeyes. Skalski's ejection didn't necessarily do that, but it did eliminate Clemson's enforcer for the rest of the night.

And whether his absence contributed to the final score, it didn't help against an offense that had ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit gushing midway through the final quarter concerning Burrow and the Tigers O: "Its the most impressive offense I think I've seen in my life."

That it may be. It's certainly one of the best ever to roll through an undefeated season to a championship.

Not that everything about this current CFP format is perfect. Though this season and its two CFP semifinal games turned out to be the perfect argument to limit the playoff to four teams, since there were really only three elite teams in college football this time around — LSU, Clemson and Ohio State — after Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was injured for the final third of the Tide's campaign, the title game itself needs to be played sooner.

Sixteen days separated the CFP semifinals and the championship game. Eighteen bowls were staged after the final seconds ticked off Clemson's thrilling semifinal victory over Ohio State. The NFL not only played the final Sunday of its regular season, it completed the first two rounds of its playoffs during that time. The Academy Awards announced the finalists for its awards. On a far more serious note, President Trump has decided he's had enough of Iran. On a far more curious note, Prince Harry and Meghan are acting as if they've had enough of the Royals.

some text
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow holds the trophy after their win against Clemson in a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. LSU won 42-25. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Sixteen days is too long. Super Bowls are never more than 14 days removed from the conference finals. The colleges shouldn't take more time. Yes, the pros tend to own Saturday and Sunday once their playoffs begin. But why play on Monday? Why not a Friday, so the CFP final isn't played on a school night?

Still, as LSU showed once it fell behind by 10 points for the first time all season, the title game got it right. Here was defending national champion Clemson and its 29-game winning streak. Here were the Bayou Bengals, undefeated despite a brutal schedule that included a nonconference win over Texas, a road win at Alabama, a thorough thumping of Georgia inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium and a rout of Oklahoma inside that same stadium in their CFP semi.

Monday night was LSU's seventh win against a Top 10 team. Best team in the land? Hands down.

More important, this image of LSU as the new king of the sport may stick around for awhile.

To return to the Bayou Bengals' win at Alabama earlier in the season, LSU coach Ed Orgeron gathered his team in the visitors' locker room at Bryant-Denny Stadium and told them: "We're going to beat (Alabama's) (expletive deleted) in recruiting. We're going to beat their (expletive deleted) every time they see us. You understand that?"

We just might be beginning to understand.

It might be time for the SEC to get used to Orgeron growling "Geaux Tigers" for several years to come.

some text
Mark Wiedmer

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com.

 

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT