LSU beats Clemson in College Football Playoff title game

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Jan. 14 (UPI) — LSU regained the top spot in the college football world with a 42-25 win over Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers captured the program’s first national title since 2007. Clemson, the defending CFP champions, was denied its third championship in the last four years.

“I’m just so happy for everybody,” Orgeron said. “I grew up wanting to be the head coach at LSU. I’m just so happy for the people of Louisiana and this football team.”

LSU star quarterback Joe Burrow completed 31-of-49 passes for 463 yards and five touchdowns. His fourth touchdown throw of the game, a 4-yard strike to tight end Thaddeus Moss, broke the NCAA FBS single-season records for touchdown passes and touchdowns responsible for.

“This is an incredible moment for our program, for Baton Rouge and Louisiana,” Burrow said. “We got down 17-7 and we never flinched.”

Burrow added 14 carries for 58 yards and one score on the ground. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase served as his favorite target of the day, hauling in nine receptions for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire finished with 16 carries for a team-high 110 yards. Wideout Justin Jefferson had nine catches for 106 yards.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who entered the championship game with a 25-0 record with the Tigers, was 18-of-37 passing with 234 yards. He notched 49 yards and one score on 10 rushes. Travis Etienne recorded 15 carries for 78 yards and one touchdown.

After both sides traded punts in the early stages of the first quarter, Lawrence put Clemson ahead 7-0 with a 1-yard touchdown run at the 6:34 mark. Two drives later, Burrow answered with a 52-yard strike to Chase that tied the score 7-7 as the national title game shifted to the second quarter.

Clemson grabbed a double-digit lead early in the second frame after B.T. Potter’s 52-yard field goal and a 36-yard touchdown run from wideout Tee Higgins. LSU’s 17-7 deficit marked the first time the Tigers trailed by 10 or more points this season.

On the Tigers’ next possession, Burrow responded with a 56-yard pass to Chase, setting up first-and-goal at Clemson’s 3-yard line. On third down, Burrow scored on a keeper from three yards out to cut LSU’s deficit to 17-14 with 9:17 left in the second quarter.

Burrow’s 3-yard touchdown run sparked LSU’s outburst of 21 unanswered points, giving the Tigers a 28-17 halftime lead.

Etienne ran in a 3-yard score on Clemson’s first possession in the second half. After a successful two-point conversion, Clemson trailed LSU 28-25.

Burrow put LSU ahead 35-25 with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Moss late in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Burrow connected with Terrace Marshall Jr. for a 24-yard score, giving the Tigers a comfortable 42-25 advantage.

Searching for an unlikely comeback late in the final frame, Lawrence fumbled on a 7-yard run to seal Clemson’s defeat.