LSU champions sign

LSU Tigers are declared the champions during the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS ­— No disrespect intended, Clemson.

Really.

It’s a touchy subject, for sure, the counterpoint your folksy head coach was selling for most of the season.

But this wasn’t about you.

It’s about LSU.

And don’t let anybody tell you that you didn’t belong in the Superdome Monday night just because your conference, the ACC, couldn’t put up enough resistance to really get a grip on your worth.

Just a guess, but you probably really were the second-best team in the country this season.

There’s something to say for that.

There’s a good chance you also have the second-best quarterback in the land and he might well be the best when he comes back next year.

But this year?

Sorry.

This was about LSU. This was about a homegrown Cajun head coach, Ed Orgeron, who changed when he saw it was needed, who galvanized a team and a state … who finally broke down in tears as the purple-and-gold confetti swirled around the Superdome.

“One team, one heartbeat,” he screamed one last time at the Tigers fans, not a one of whom apparently left the dome until the final celebrating was done inside.

They chanted all the school ditties until the public address announcer finally told them to leave and move the party to French Quarter.

LSU is back where it belongs. That’s what this was about — winning championships in the Superddome and marching to the French Quarter to let it all out.

Clemson, a fine team, a great team, just happened to be in the way.

This was about the best quarterback in the country in Joe Burrow who maybe should get another Heisman Trophy just for what he did in the two playoff games.

Not all Heisman Trophy winners fare so well in postseason. This one won the stiff-arm trophy by a landslide and then upped his game another notch on the biggest stages.

Yeah, the Ohio kid fit right in. He wasn’t the only one.

The tall, lanky Ohio kid took one final, clock-bleeding knee in the shadow of the goal posts, then immediately hugged his 5-foot-8 Louisiana born-and-bred running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Coach O says it all the time. One more time — One Team, One Heartbeat.

If there was any doubt coming in, LSU showed once and for all, and mostly forever, that these Tigers were the best and most exciting and sometimes electrifying team in the country this season, and maybe the most jaw-dropping offense college football has ever seen.

No offense, Clemson.

It wasn’t you.

You even gave LSU some concern there early.

LSU couldn’t get going in the first quarter — field position seemed to be the culprit — then looked as unstoppable as ever in the second quarter, that familiar bang-bang-bang offense kicking in to score 21 points in final 10 minutes of the half.

Field position had something to do with it, but Clemson also covered the Tigers’ deep stable of wide receivers for a while, which was a startling new development for this LSU offense to deal with.

Not that it changed anything.

Yes, Clemson had the nation’s best defense coming in.

LSU finished with 628 yards.

Ordinarily that might embarrass a proud team like the Tiger Paws, but not this time.

No need, Clemson.

LSU has been doing this kind of thing all year.

Nobody around here totally understands either.

One year you’re in Les Miles rehab, relying on defense and ball control, the next a strange alien offense drops in, maybe from outer space, and you’re putting moon-shot numbers.

Bottom line?

It was apparent Monday night that nobody was going to beat LSU this magical season.

If there was a point they drove home after shaky first quarter, that was it.

Maybe I was slow to come around on LSU.

Crazy me thought the SEC championship game would be close — LSU 37, Georgia 10.

If not that, then surely the semifinals — LSU 63, Oklahoma 28.

Well, surely Clemson would be close — LSU 42, Clemson 25.

Oh, maybe it was closer than that. Or at the least it held more suspense than a 17-point margin suggest.

But LSU went out and beat Clemson just the way it beat everybody else this season.

If it took a little while to get going, no problem. LSU had to decipher a few defenses.

The double-digit deficit, 17-7 early in the second quarter, was a different twist.

The 21 points LSU rolled off in the final 10 minutes of the first half to take control of the game was nothing new.

These guys sometimes score points when they sneeze.

And if Clemson wanted to get back in it with a quick touchdown in the third quarter, that’s OK too.

The Tigers have shown all season they’re very much at home in second-half video games.

It never really materialized because LSU even had the better defense, or are least a D better suited to handle what it was up against.

One stat: Clemson was 1-for-11 on third downs.

That’s the way it was going to be.

The Clemson head coach, Dabo Swinney, admitted what we all saw.

“Tonight was all about LSU,” Swinney said. “Tip your hat to them. They earned it.”


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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