OP-ED: Perfect season

While the sting of an unexpected and season-ending at-home loss still resonates for New Orleans Saints fans, the thrill of an LSU victory in the College Football Playoff national championship seems to have given local fans a remedy to their doldrums.

The Bayou Bengals of LSU soundly trounced Clemson University in a battle between tigers that started badly for the Purple and the Gold. With 14 wins to its credit and no losses, LSU had never trailed in a matchup by more than seven points. Yet, inexplicably, Clemson scored the first touchdown and extra point in the first quarter and led for four long minutes on the game clock until Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow, with remarkable composure, tossed a 52-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase.

But Clemson was not done. With great skill, they kept the LSU Tigers pinned back close to their own end zone on multiple kicks and followed their first touchdown with a second one, a successful point-after attempt and then a 52-yard field goal. Suddenly, LSU was behind by the biggest margin of their entire season, a whopping 10 points.

The fact is Clemson hadn’t lost a game in 29 previous contests and were the returning national champs and had been to the CFP finals four times in the previous five years. They hadn’t let an opponent score more than two touchdowns on them all season. Could LSU recover?

Under the cool and methodical work of Joe Burrow, LSU caught up with a three-yard quarterback sneak into the end zone and then two successful strikes for touchdowns to Ja’Marr Chase for a second time (this time for 14 yards)  and then a six-yard toss to Thaddeus Moss.

By the end of the first half, LSU had put 21 unanswered points on the board and never looked back while cruising to an eventual 42-25 victory.

We should all revel in this well-deserved win for LSU. It shows the determination of Head Coach Ed Orgeron and his staff and the dedication and camaraderie of the entire team in achieving what some say (and we concur) was the greatest winning season for any college team.

In terms of total yardage, time of possession, rushing yardage, first downs, third down efficiency and fourth down efficiency, LSU was unstoppable.

On a personal front, Burrow confirmed his status as, perhaps, the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, establishing new NCAA records for the most touchdown passes in a season at 60 and most touchdowns in a season at 65. Due to a few dropped passes, Burrow’s percentage of completed passes failed to best  quarterback Colt McCoy’s record from 2007. But then again, McCoy never won a national title ring. Or a Heisman Trophy.

This national championship is the fourth LSU has achieved and the first under the CFP series. Earlier wins under Coach Nick Saban in 2003 and Coach Les Miles in 2007 were important and noteworthy. But for died-in-the-wool LSU Tiger fans, the fabled Chinese Bandits team of 1959 featuring running back Billy Cannon – the only other LSU player to win the Heisman Trophy – always seemed to be in separate company. This win has cemented this team forever as the best ever fielded by a team in purple and gold.

Cannon was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame and it seems Burrow is destined to be elected to that august body as well. That anti-climatic bit of news won’t be a surprise to anyone.

Make no mistake about it, though. It was fitting that the victory and celebration should take place in our own Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

This was a perfect end to a perfect 15-0 season (8-0 in the SEC) and we should be thankful and grateful that the talent and dedication of this team will stand the test of time as the greatest in the history of the game.

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