NEW ORLEANS — LSU stuck with its story until the very end.
All the way to the national championship.
They’re passing first. The Tigers offense will never, ever go into a shell. When they took the plunge into an upbeat, quick-striking offense, there was no turning back.
Certainly not in the national championship game against Clemson, which turned into an early Mardi Gras in the waning moments.
It kind of ended like it began.
LSU made its presence known in the second week of the season against Texas with one statement play — turning up their nose at playing safe, running some clock, in favor of a risky pass on third-and-17 that beat Texas and became Joe Burrow’s original Heisman moment.
The situation was even more in favor of sitting on the ball Monday night when LSU took over with a 17-point lead and 3:53 remaining.
But new habits die hard.
For three quarters, Burrow was LSU’s passing game and running game. LSU showed how it could really, really turn him loose when it didn’t have to worry about next week.
But Clemson bottled up LSU star running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire most of the night.
Still, when everybody in the Superdome knew Edwards-Helaire was getting the ball for that final drive, the running game was there.
LSU wasn’t content to grind out a first down and punt at the first sign of risk.
Edwards-Helaire busted off a 21-yard run on first, four yards on another, three on yet another.
OK, third-and-7. Edwards-Helaire again. Maybe he gets it, maybe not.
Not this year. Not this team. LSU was going to throw until the end, for 14 yards to keep the drive alive when running and punting would be the safe move.
That’s what got them here, that’s what would take them to the finish line.
Burrow threw once, complete, threw again, complete.
Only then did the Tigers play it safe, with the best play call possible, taking a knee at the Clemson 3-yard line.