LSU came, saw, and, boy, did the Tigers conquer.
LSU capped one of the greatest seasons in college football history by dethroning defending national champion Clemson to claim one of its own Monday night in New Orleans. And LSU made it look rather easy after the first quarter and a half.
The Tigers quickly erased an early 10-point deficit to snap Clemson’s 29-game winning streak with a 42-25 rout to cap a 15-0 season, one in which LSU beat seven(!) teams ranked in the top 10 at the time the game was played. LSU throttled Oklahoma in the College Football playoff semifinal while Clemson outlasted Ohio State, but Clemson was no match for the team that left no doubt as to who was the best during the 2019 season.
Here’s how I voted in the final AP top 25 of the season.
1. LSU (15-0): Clemson statistically had the nation’s best defense this season, allowing 11.7 points and less than 250 yards per game. Yet like everybody else LSU went up against, it simply didn’t matter. The Bayou Bengals, who averaged nearly 40 points against the nation’s top 2 scoring defenses (Clemson, Georgia), rolled up more than 600 yards by the time they were through, and Joe Burrow capped what’s arguably the single-best season for a quarterback in the sport’s history by throwing for 463 yards and five touchdowns, setting an FBS record for touchdown passes in a season (60). It’s the best college offense I’ve seen in my three-decade lifetime.
2. Clemson (14-1): Any other year, Clemson probably pulls off the title repeat. But the ACC’s version of the Tigers simply ran into a buzzsaw Monday night, which makes LSU’s victory even more impressive considering how good Clemson has been. The national championship game loss was Clemson’s first since a Sugar Bowl loss in 2018 in the same stadium. We’ll have to wait and see how much attrition there is from Clemson’s star-studded roster given a bunch of juniors could bolt for the NFL, but we know this much: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, will be back to operate Clemson’s offense next season, which has many believing Clemson will be back playing for it all again.
3. Ohio State (13-1): The Buckeyes gave Clemson all it wanted in the Fiesta Bowl national semifinal and might’ve been playing for it all if not for a controversial call where what looked like a completion and a fumble returned for a touchdown by Ohio State was ruled an incompletion late in the third quarter of a 29-23 loss. The Buckeyes will lose pass-rush specialist Chase Young, running back J.K. Dobbins and top cornerback prospect Jeff Okudah to the NFL, but quarterback Justin Fields will be back.
4. Georgia (12-2): The Bulldogs suffered a bad early loss to South Carolina, but their only loss the rest of the way was to the eventual national champion in the SEC title game. They capped a 12-win season with a Sugar Bowl win over a top-10 Baylor squad and finished among the top 4 nationally in scoring defense and total defense. QB Jake Fromm is off to the NFL, but Kirby Smart has stockpiled talent that should keep UGA among the SEC’s elite.
5. Oregon (12-2): A play or two here or there and we might’ve been talking about the Ducks as a playoff team this year. Oregon’s losses came by a combined nine points to a top-15 Auburn team and Arizona State, but the Ducks still polished off a strong season with a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl victory. It was good timing for Oregon, which is set to lose top QB draft prospect Justin Herbert and a handful of starters off one of the nation’s most experienced offensive lines.
6. Oklahoma (12-2)
7. Penn State (11-2)
8. Florida (11-2)
9. Alabama (11-2)
10. Baylor (11-3)
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11. Minnesota (11-2)
12. Utah (11-3)
13. Wisconsin (10-4)
14. Auburn (9-4)
15. Iowa (10-3)
16. Notre Dame (11-2)
17. Navy (11-2)
18. Michigan (9-4)
19. Memphis (12-2)
20. Appalachian State (13-1)
21. Cincinnati (11-3)
22. Air Force (11-2)
23. Washington (8-5)
24. Boise State (12-2)
25. SMU (10-3)
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter