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Five biggest reasons why LSU won the National Championship game

Larry Brown Sports logo Larry Brown Sports 1/14/2020 Grey Papke, Larry Brown Sports

Video by USA TODAY

The LSU Tigers beat the Clemson Tigers 42-25 in an emphatic victory on Monday night to seal their championship. The win ensured an unbeaten season from one of the more explosive offenses we’ve seen in the college game recently, one that lived up to its hype.

There were plenty of reasons why LSU outplayed Clemson to win Monday’s game. Here are five of the biggest.

5. LSU made better, quicker adjustments

Clemson actually came out of the gates looking like the better team in Monday’s game, jumping out to leads of 7-0 and 17-7. At points, Joe Burrow actually looked a little bit thrown off by Clemson’s defense and pressure. LSU did what they had to do and adapted. The offense woke up in the second quarter as Burrow settled in, and LSU was ahead by halftime. Adapting and dealing with adversity in games like this is absolutely key to winning. LSU took some real punches from Clemson and got back up to put on a show.

4. James Skalski’s targeting ejection

LSU already had the ball down to the Clemson nine-yard line when Clemson linebacker James Skalski was hit with a targeting penalty and ejected. Still, that moment felt like a turning point in the game. Clemson seemed to be getting rattled, and Skalski was a big loss for the Clemson defense. LSU took advantage, scoring a touchdown on the next play and adding another one in the fourth quarter. Clemson, meanwhile, would not score again.

3. Clemson penalties at key moments

Neither team played the most disciplined game on Monday night, and LSU actually took more penalties and lost more yards on them than their counterparts did. However, Clemson’s penalties were incredibly damaging and came at bad times. In addition to Skalski’s aforementioned ejection, the biggest infraction was likely Derion Kendrick committing pass interference on 3rd and 19 with 2:23 left in the first half. That gave LSU new life, and they went on to score a touchdown to expand the lead to 28-17 just before halftime in a huge momentum shift.

2. Trevor Lawrence was contained

Lawrence is a gifted player who can hurt teams with both his arm and his legs, but LSU neutralized him excellently in Monday’s game. The Clemson quarterback went just 18-for-37 for 234 yards. While he scored once with his legs, he didn’t throw any passing touchdowns and had a key fourth quarter fumble. His second half was particularly miserable, and by the fourth quarter, he was rather desperately and unsuccessfully trying to find any receiver he could. LSU’s defense had a lot to do with this, and Lawrence seemed rattled and overwhelmed at times, unable to dig himself and his team out of a big hole.

1. Joe Burrow was just too good

Burrow certainly showed why he won the Heisman Trophy and why he’s almost certain to be the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL Draft. The LSU quarterback dominated a good Clemson defense, overcoming early pressure and a possible rib injury to pick Clemson apart over the final three quarters. Burrow went 31-for-49 for 463 yards and five touchdowns, significantly outplaying Trevor Lawrence and making potential first-round cornerbacks look like walk-ons. That was essentially the difference between two very good teams.

Related slideshow: Best Photos of the 2020 CFP National Championship (provided by imagn)


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