National championship 2020 score: LSU unseats Clemson as Joe Burrow completes historic college football season
Complete analysis, highlights and coverage of the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship
NEW ORLEANS -- No. 1 LSU completed one of the most impressive seasons in college football history on Monday night, storming back from a first-half deficit to take down No. 3 Clemson in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship. The 42-25 win for LSU was a fitting finale for Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, who finished one of the greatest individual seasons of all-time by shattering even more records in the game that gave LSU its first national championship since the 2007 season.
Burrow finished the game with 463 yards on 31-of-49 passing, totalling six touchdowns (five passing) with no turnovers. He set new national title game records for passing yards and touchdowns, broke Deshaun Watson's record for total yards in a championship game and broke the NCAA single-season record for touchdown passes in the process.
The win is a crowning achievement for Ed Orgeron and the LSU coaching staff, especially offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Joe Brady, for the way they were able to transform not just the scheme of their offense but the mentality of the entire team. The aggressiveness that comes with an up-tempo spread attack was adopted on every side of the ball, and their relentlessness ultimately became the defining quality of their dominance.
LSU's offense did not dominate for the entire game. In factm, poor field position and some strong early play by Clemson's defense limited the scoring opportunities early on. Clemson had a 17-7 lead in the second quarter before Burrow finally started to heat up, but once he got rolling, there was no stopping the hottest hand in college football. Burrow linked up with wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase for 147 yards in the first half alone, and the Biletnikoff Award winner finished the game with nine catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns, which is a new CFP National Championship record for receiving yards.
The "you can't make this up" factor with LSU and this game was off the charts from the moment their spot was locked up with its Peach Bowl win 16 days ago. The Tigers were back in New Orleans in the same building where a 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game kick started an eight-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide. LSU had to go to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to end that streak of disappointment, and now it has fully reversed the mojo from the shutout title game loss with a high-flying win that was just another day of ball for the nation's No. 1 offense.
Here are three immediate takeaways coming out of a thrilling national title game in NOLA.
1. LSU won the game in the second quarter: LSU scored the final 21 points of the first half, beating Clemson in spot where Dabo Swinney's group usually thrives. Clemson makes a point to win those crucial late second quarter and early third quarter portions of the game, but it could not deliver a stop against Burrow. The Clemson defense that averaged 11.5 points and 264.1 total yards per game gave up 21 points and 269 yards in the second quarter alone.
Orgeron blamed the bad field position for the slow start, but he also pointed to offensive adjustments once his staff saw how defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Clemson planned to stop Burrow and the passing attack. Part of the adjustments included using Burrow as a key part of the rushing game, so when Clemson's defense was loaded up against LSU's wide receivers in the red zone, there were opportunities for the star quarterback make plays with his legs.
LSU's offense catching fire was the headline, but don't overlook how the Tigers defense helped secure this championship game win. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's unit came up with two huge third-down stops that kept Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence from having a chance to respond to the run. Clemson eventually offered its response in the form a touchdown early in the third quarter, but those ended up being the TIgers' last points of the game.
2. Thaddeus Moss was one of the game's biggest stars: Throughout the season, Moss has been a unique weapon and great compliment to wide receivers Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall. Moss rarely put up the kind of stats that the wideouts did this year, and against Clemson, he only had 36 yards on five catches ... but two of them were touchdowns in crucial red zone situations. He was a matchup problem against a Clemson defense that was trying to combat LSU's spread attack by filling the field with defensive backs and agile linebackers. At 6-foot-3 and 249 pounds, Moss was bigger and stronger than most players in Clemson's back seven, and it was exactly where Burrow went with the ball when LSU, with its lead cut to just three in the third quarter, needed a score to keep Clemson at bay.
3. Clemson's passing attack had a few highlights but little consistency: Lawrence's 25-0 record as a starter is now 25-1 after a game that saw him complete just 18-of-37 passes for 234 yards with no touchdowns. Lawrence made a few plays with his legs, including scoring the first touchdown of the game, but he failed to get into a good rhythm with WRs Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross as he tried to match Burrow's production.
Early in the season, Lawrence's struggles were mostly tied to turnovers and trying to force the issue with his future pro wideouts. That's not what happened against LSU. Aranda and the LSU defense did a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback, and by the end of the game, Lawrence was sped up by the combination of LSU's defensive line getting a good push and the free rushers from the second level. When Clemson started strong in the third quarter, it looked as though the plan of attack was to lean on the ground game, and it was successful on its lone touchdown drive of the second half. But as Burrow continued to run up the score, the need for quick scores kept Clemson in a mindset of pushing the ball down the field through the air, and LSU knew it and was able to adjust its game plan accordingly.
When Lawrence returns for the 2020 season, he will do so as the preseason Heisman Trophy favorite for a Clemson team that will likely be among the top two or three teams in the Preseason AP Top 25. There will be an opportunity for him to put this game behind him and Clemson to attack the next season with a fire from this loss, but until then, the disappointment of defeat will linger for a player and a program not used to winding up on the wrong end of games like this.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way Monday night updating this story analysis and highlights from LSU vs. Clemson. Check out more from the national championship game below.
Terrace Marshall just made one of the best catches of the season in a year filled with incredible catches from LSU's wide receivers. LSU set to go up by three scores, and that might just do it unless Clemson's offense can stage a furious fourth quarter comeback.
Joe Burrow's awareness after he escapes is insane. He then has keyhole accuracy deep downfield on the run. Just insane.
Did not expect LSU's defense to have Trevor Lawrence as spooked and sped up as he is right now. Great adjustments by Dave Aranda to figure out ways to get pressure on Lawrence and of course the back end of the defense with good coverage on Higgins and Ross
LSU's 42-yard field goal attempt is no good, and now Clemson has somehow withstood what looked to be a game-ending drive and gets the ball back still down 10 with 1:40 left in the third quarter