LSU knocked Clemson off its title perch – and did it in a record-breaking showing. At the end of the day, LSU had Joe Burrow, something no other team did. According to NCAA, after breaking the single-season passing touchdown record (finished with 60), Burrow also carried the team to set the single-season points record in the poll era (726, beating Florida State’s 723 in 14 games).
LSU closed out a 15-0 season with a 42-25 win against Clemson in New Orleans. Burrow’s historic season ends at No. 1 as LSU surged past Clemson to win the College Football national title for the first time, and Clemson’s 29 game winning streak is now done. Burrow ended his Heisman-winning season 31-for-49 for 463 yards and five touchdowns. All awards and records aside, every national championship is special, but not every national championship is transformative.
Maybe it is too soon to say the success of the 2019 LSU Tigers has carved a new path, but this team’s performance resembles aspects of the 1958 LSU Tigers. After winning the 1958 national championship, they changed the way we viewed LSU, and even how Tiger fans view their own as well. With that said, these Tigers play nothing like the 2018 Tigers.
Joe Brady, LSU’s co-offensive coordinator, came to Baton Rouge this season from the New Orleans Saints and remade the offense. LSU came out 628 yards against Clemson. After trailing Clemson 17-7, LSU went on a 35-8 run that quieted the orange side of the dome.
Co-offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger told ESPN, “What this offense has done, I’m amazed. I really am. We changed the whole darn thing in one year, you know what I’m saying? We changed everything in one year. And these guys bought into it. They worked hard to get where they’re supposed to be, to get where they want to be, and they did it.”
Burrow ended the season with 60 touchdown passes, an FBS record. But, LSU quarterbacks threw 59 touchdowns in the previous four seasons combined. Ensminger said, “You never imagine this, but it’s always your goal.” It’s hard to expect your team would be the best in 126 years of the program. It is also hard to expect that your current team could possibly match the legendary 1958 Tigers. But the Tigers who played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday changed how people saw LSU on the field.
Before 1958, the LSU football program had little success, the 1908 team went 10-0. The next 50 years remained the same, and then came along the 1958 Tigers, who, under 34-year-old Dietzel, laid the foundation for the program we all know today. Billy Cannon won the 1959 Heisman Trophy, and fans began filing the Tiger stadium to the rim ever since. In the next six decades, LSU fans displayed their pride in the noise and heat of the Tiger Stadium on autumn Saturday nights.
Back in the dome, after LSU gave a performance for the ages, Burrow told ESPN, “You know, I think what we did tonight can’t be taken away from us. I don’t know about the whole hero thing, but I know this national championship will be remembered for a long time in Louisiana. To do it New Orleans is even more special. This is going to be remembered for a long time.” Burrow couldn’t be more correct.
Image courtesy of Forbes