In our hurry to ordain all we see in sports as the best, the biggest or the brightest, rationality often gets overlooked. Is something that happened today automatically better than what happened yesterday? Who’s to say.
And yet you’d have to admit LSU’s football team, and its dynamic Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Joe Burrow, a kid Urban Meyer thought wasn’t quite good enough, brought something to the table rarely seen in the history of college football.
They brought the swagger to match their offensive explosiveness, the weapons to execute their game plan, the depth to wear their opponents out. They hit you hard and fast and then hit you again just because they felt like it. They were poised and powerful and untimately unbeatable.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a team like the Tigers trotted out this season.
So go ahead and say it. Maybe this was the greatest college football team the sport has seen in the last 25 years.
Just look at what Burrow did on Monday. He broke the NCAA FBS single-season record for both touchdown passes (58) and touchdowns responsible for (63). And he wrapped it on the biggest stage of them all as LSU battered Clemson, the defending national champion, 42-25 for the College Football Playoff title.
“He’s one of the greatest players in LSU history,” Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said. “He’s done so much for the state of Louisiana and LSU. We are so grateful to Joe Burrow.”
Burrow was unstoppable. He threw five TD passes and ran for a sixth score to lead his team to its first title since 2007, when Les Miles was their coach.
“This is what I wanted to do from the time I was 5 years old, was hoist this trophy, and bringing it back to Louisiana,” Burrow said after the game. “I guess we’re in Louisiana, but staying in Louisiana, we weren’t going to let someone come in here and steal this from us in our home state.
“We have a great fan base that came out and supported us. We were going to keep this thing right here.”
Burrow mixed-and-matched his throws among the most diverse receiving corps in the nation – Thaddeus Moss, Terrace Marshall, Jr., Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
They toyed with Clemson’s secondary, always a step or two faster. Chase took Clemson’s best defensive back, A.J. Terrell, to school. He ran great routes and made outstanding catches, finishing with nine for 221 yards.
“They made some plays tonight that you’ve just got to tip your cap,” Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said.
Burrow’s five TD passes and 463 passing yards – with no interceptions – were the most in a BCS or College Football Playoff game and Chase’s yardage was the most in a title game since the birth of the BCS in 1998.
And Burrow played the tough guy. He was sacked five times. But he refused to relent when Clemson linebacker James Skalski clocked him in the ribs at the end of the first half. He shook the pain off and kept on pitching.
“I was fine,” he said.
Now Burrow, who transferred to LSU from Ohio State prior to the 2018 season, heads to the NFL, most likely the first player taken overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. He will play on Mondays and Thursdays and Saturdays and Sundays. We’ll see what becomes of him.
However, he will leave LSU holding school and SEC records for passing touchdowns and passing yards, the only player in SEC history to throw for both 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Did you know LSU is just the second team since 1897 to go 15-0 in a season, joining 2018 Clemson? It beat six teams among the top 13 in the final regular-season College Football Playoff rankings.
So the argument surrounding its greatness might stand the test of time. Over the last month, it crushed Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl and ended Clemson’s 29-game winning streak.
“So many people put so much work into this,” Burrow said “This doesn’t happen — this doesn’t come around every year.”
The greatest player and the greatest team won the greatest title a college football team can win. And we feel comfortable saying it.
“I think this team is going to be mentioned as one of the greatest teams in college football history,” Orgeron said.