Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The LSU Tigers and Clemson Tigers met in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night and delivered a CFP National Championship Game that we’ll never forget.

Clemson jumped on top early, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence sent a message to LSU’s fans after the go-ahead score. After Tee Higgins plowed through an LSU defender for a 36-yard touchdown, Clemson held the early momentum in a 17-7 game.

Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow returned to the field and put his jaw-dropping skills on display. A must-see dime down the field to Ja’Marr Chase set up Burrow’s touchdown run. Once LSU captured momentum, Burrow and Chase went to work tearing Clemson’s defense apart.

LSU’s 21 unanswered points propelled the Tigers to a 28-17 lead at halftime. Clemson came clawing back to make it a one-score game early in the third quarter. Just as Clemson started to get momentum, Burrow took it back to cap off his record-breaking season in style.

Here are the winners and losers from LSU’s 42-25 victory over Clemson in the National Championship Game.

Winner: Joe Burrow, LSU Tigers

Expect anything different? The only way Burrow’s historic season could end would be with confetti falling on him and the championship trophy in his hands. Simply put, the senior’s collegiate career ended with one of his best performances in history. Burrow might have started slowly, but he was unstoppable once he hit his stride in the second quarter.

He finished the first half with four total touchdowns, 270 passing yards and 55 yards on the ground. When he returned from the halftime break, Burrow kept attacking and set multiple single-season college records in the process. He finished the night with 463 passing yards, 58 rushing yards, six total touchdowns and a storybook ending to an unforgettable year.

Loser: A.J. Terrell, Clemson Tigers

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Terrell came into this game recognized as one of the best cornerbacks in the country. By the time this title clash even hit halftime, the first-team All-ACC cornerback was remembered for getting burnt repeatedly by Ja’Marr Chase.

Clemson allowed Terrell to follow Chase all over the field and it backfired. The 6-foot-1 receiver was beaten off the line, torched with speed and just outmatched in every way possible. As the junior ponders his future, with the NFL awaiting him, he might need to consider returning to school after this ugly showing on the biggest stage.

Winner: Isaiah Simmons, Clemson Tigers

On a night when many of his teammates on defense struggled, Simmons put on a masterful performance as Clemson’s do-it-all linebacker. He was simply a disrupter in every aspect of the game and did everything he possibly could.

Simmons brought pressure off the edge, created penetration to disrupt plays in the backfield and excelled in coverage. This 6-foot-4 linebacker’s instincts and rare athleticism were on full display on the big stage, and he proved why he’ll likely be a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft.

Loser: Kristian Fulton, LSU Tigers

It proved to be a difficult night for top cornerbacks. While we’ve seen Fulton shut down plenty of No. 1 receivers this season, Higgins made sure that LSU’s top cornerback experienced pain and embarrassment in the national championship.

Higgins identified weaknesses in Fulton’s game and exploited them. He beat him with quickness, he outmatched him with leverage and he spun Fulton around like a top. Of course, those things on their own were tough to watch. It’s the hit Higgins delivered on his touchdown run that we’ll all remember most.

Winner: Thaddeus Moss, LSU Tigers

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As he watched his son from the stands, Hall of Famer Randy Moss could only smile with pride at Thaddeus’ dominance. While he might be playing tight end, rather than receiver like his father, Thaddeus made a name for himself with the national spotlight upon him.

Clemson had its hands full with Chase and Justin Jefferson, so Moss took advantage. He kept finding holes underneath and dominated in the red zone, becoming Burrow’s go-to target later in the game. While his father might have a spot in Canton, Thaddeus has a championship ring.

Loser: Brent Venables, Clemson Tigers

Venables is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country, but this was one of the worst showings we’ve seen from his defense in years. While Clemson’s defense seemed to have a plan of attack early, the adjustments never came once LSU’s offense made changes.

This defensive failure was about more than just mismatches. LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Joe Brady outcoached Venables. Clemson allowed critical third-down conversions, notably on the touchdown drive before halftime. It’s rare to see it happen, but Venables was outsmarted by better coaches, and it cost this team a national title.

Winner: Ja’Marr Chase, LSU Tigers

There were multiple starting-caliber NFL receivers on the field in this game. Chase didn’t just prove he’s better than they are. He demonstrated why he could become one of the NFL’s best at the position when his time comes.

When Chase hauled in his first TD, a gorgeous 52-yard score, you knew the night would be special. He went into halftime with 162 yards and two scores, a line other players would love in a full game. Chase wasn’t done. He blew past the 200-yard mark in the third quarter and finished the night with 221 yards, two scores and a championship. We’re excited to see how he tries to top this as a junior next season.

Loser: Trevor Lawrence, Clemson Tigers

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A year after Lawrence humiliated Alabama and made a name for himself in Clemson’s championship win last season, he fell short against LSU. While the 20-year-old started hot with a touchdown run and a gesture to the fans, this game and LSU’s defense quickly humbled him.

Lawrence completed just 18-of-37 attempts, averaging a pedestrian 6.3 yards per attempt and failed to throw a single touchdown pass in the game. He seemed to get rattled by the Tigers’ pass rush, missing some key throws and was even fortunate to not have an interception. Lawrence is still one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Now let’s see how he learns from this experience next year.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.


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Can you name every Heisman Trophy winner since 1959?
2019 / LSU / QB
Joe Burrow
2018 / Oklahoma / QB
Kyler Murray
2017 / Oklahoma / QB
Baker Mayfield
2016 / Louisville / QB
Lamar Jackson
2015 / Alabama / RB
Derrick Henry
2014 / Oregon / QB
Marcus Mariota
2013 / Florida St. / QB
Jameis Winston
2012 / Texas A&M / QB
Johnny Manziel
2011 / Baylor / QB
Robert Griffin III
2010 / Auburn / QB
Cam Newton
2009 / Alabama / RB
Mark Ingram
2008 / Oklahoma / QB
Sam Bradford
2007 / Florida / QB
Tim Tebow
2006 / Ohio State / QB
Troy Smith
2005 / USC / RB
Reggie Bush
2004 / USC / QB
Matt Leinart
2003 / Oklahoma / QB
Jason White
2002 / USC / QB
Carson Palmer
2001 / Nebraska / QB
Eric Crouch
2000 / Florida State / QB
Chris Weinke
1999 / Wisconsin / RB
Ron Dayne
1998 / Texas / RB
Ricky Williams
1997 / Michigan / CB
Charles Woodson
1996 / Florida / QB
Danny Wuerffel
1995 / Ohio State / RB
Eddie George
1994 / Colorado / RB
Rashaan Salaam
1993 / Florida State / QB
Charlie Ward
1992 / Miami / QB
Gino Torretta
1991 / Michigan / WR/KR
Desmond Howard
1990 / BYU / QB
Ty Detmer
1989 / Houston / QB
Andre Ware
1988 / Oklahoma St. / RB
Barry Sanders
1987 / Notre Dame / WR
Tim Brown
1986 / Miami / QB
Vinny Testaverde
1985 / Auburn / RB
Bo Jackson
1984 / Boston College / QB
Doug Flutie
1983 / Nebraska / RB
Mike Rozier
1982 / Georgia / RB
Herschel Walker
1981 / USC / RB
Marcus Allen
1980 / South Carolina / RB
George Rogers
1979 / USC / RB
Charles White
1978 / Oklahoma / RB
Billy Sims
1977 / Texas / RB
Earl Campbell
1976 / Pittsburgh / RB
Tony Dorsett
1975 / Ohio State / RB
Archie Griffin
1974 / Ohio State / RB
Archie Griffin
1973 / Penn State / RB
John Cappelletti
1972 / Nebraska / WR/RB
Johnny Rodgers
1971 / Auburn / QB
Pat Sullivan
1970 / Stanford / QB
Jim Plunkett
1969 / Oklahoma / RB
Steve Owens
1968 / USC / RB
O.J. Simpson
1967 / UCLA / QB
Gary Beban
1966 / Florida / QB
Steve Spurrier
1965 / USC / HB
Mike Garrett
1964 / Notre Dame / QB
John Huarte
1963 / Navy / QB
Roger Staubach
1962 / Oregon State / QB
Terry Baker
1961 / Syracuse / HB
Ernie Davis
1960 / Navy / HB
Joe Bellino
1959 / LSU / HB
Billy Cannon

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