Congrats, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, you’ve just capped the best season ever for a college quarterback with the best title game performance in history. What are you going to do next?
“I’m going to … CincyWorld?”
Turns out the biggest winner of Monday night’s CFP showdown between the Tigers of LSU and Clemson might be the NFL’s Bengals, who own the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Cincinnati could snatch the biggest draft prize in years, a home state Heisman hero who added to his hardware with an all-time performance against the terrific Clemson defense.
In New Orleans, Burrow rose to the occasion, as he has against stiff competition all season, torching Clemson for 463 yards on 31 of 49 passing in a 42-25 win. He threw for five touchdowns and rushed for another. The Ohio State transfer overcame an early deficit, and perhaps a first-half rib injury, to set a slew of records.
Sixty passing touchdowns for the season? Check.
Sixty-five total touchdowns for the year? Check.
BCS/CFP title game-record six scores? BCS/CFP title game-record 463 passing yards? BCS/CFP title game-record 521 total yards?
Check. Check. Check.
First contract with the Cincinnati Bengals? Big, big check.
After the game, ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi asked LSU head coach Ed Orgeron what Burrow meant to the Tigers, and he summed it up in two words. “The world.”
“He’s one of the greatest players in LSU history,” Coach O added. “He’s done much for the state of Louisiana and LSU. We are so grateful for Joe Burrow.”
Tiger faithful ought to be just as grateful for Ed O.
Somehow LSU felt like underdogs against the big, bad Tigers of Clemson. Forget LSU wins over Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma –- top-10 teams at the time, each of them. Dabo Swinney’s crew came into the game having won two of the past three national titles. Heck, QB Trevor Lawrence was 25-0 and a starter.
And when Clemson went up 17-7, it felt like two of the past three years all over again, Swinney’s savvy squad erasing the “they-didn’t-play-anyone” stigma.
Only Joe Cool didn’t break. He barely bent. LSU went on a 35-8 run, and the final margin wasn’t nearly indicative of the domination of Burrow’s team.
“There was no rah-rah speech on the sideline, there was no, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get going,’” the QB told ESPN’s Rece Davis on the postgame podium, after having been handed the title game trophy by Orgeron. “We knew what we had to do. We have a bunch of mature guys who understand the moment.”
Playing in front of an overwhelmingly purple-and-gold fan base 80 miles from its home stadium, LSU stepped on the gas. Never was that more apparent than during a 9-minute, 17-second, second-quarter stretch, when it scored three times.
In the second half, it was more of the same. As a team, the Tigers out-gained Clemson, 628-394.
And for the third time since 2003, LSU won the national championship in New Orleans.
“We love this state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said. “I love this team. One team, one heartbeat. This coaching staff. Everybody that bled the purple and gold in the great state of Louisiana. One team, one heartbeat, baby.”
It was clear after the game that Orgeron repeatedly struck that local chord with his team.
“We weren’t going to let someone come in and steal this from us in our home state,” Burrow told Davis during the trophy presentation. We were going to keep this thing right here.”
Nearly a year ago, Orgeron saw something special brewing.
“I saw this thing work for a year,” Orgeron told Davis. “We started working on Jan. 17, and at one point in the spring when I saw our offense complete 80 percent of their passes on our great defense, I thought we could be a great team. But when we made that 3rd-17 against Texas (in a 45-38 Sept. 7 win), I felt we had the players to win a championship.”
Turns out Orgeron was right, and he brought a title to his home state.
Now it’s up to Burrow to do the same up in Ohio.