LSU takes its place in history

The walk down historic Bourbon Street towards the SuperDome for the National Championship Game between LSU and Clemson was unlike any other that I have made to a stadium.

Tens of thousands of fans wearing purple and gold and orange and white paraded through the French Quarter hoping for the epic coronation of their team as the Kings of College Football.

Clemson fans were expecting, led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a signature 30th straight win to put the exclamation point on back-to-back national championships.

LSU fans wanted to see their team cap one of the greatest seasons in the history of college football and claim the title in their home state.

The legendary Superdome has hosted seven Super Bowls and dozens of college football and basketball championships (including Penn State’s 1982 title).

Ninety minutes before the game, the stadium was packed, and the fans were cheering the players as they warmed up. Even though the game was played in the heart of the Bayou, Clemson fans came out in force occupying roughly 35% of the seats.

Unlike the Super Bowl, where most of the seats are filled with corporate executives who have no rooting interest, the college football championship typically has hardcore, loyal and very loud fans.

During warmups, it was easy to see why Joe Burrow will be the first pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and Lawrence will be the first pick in next year’s draft.

Lawrence was effortlessly tossing 60-yard bombs to loosen up while Burrow was throwing one perfect pass after another.

Like Magic/Bird’s NCAA championship game, I expect Monday night’s game to be the first of many title clashes between Lawrence and Burrow as they both will have all time great NFL careers.

I was at the LSU-Alabama game earlier this year, and in person it is shocking to see the speed of LSU.

They run to the line fast, their receivers explode down the field, and Burrow’s smart decision making and release are lighting quick.

The first quarter was a classic chess match. Clemson’s defense, led by Isaiah Simmons, rivaled LSU’s speed and was flying all around the field making spectacular plays.

I was sitting 20 rows behind the Clemson bench, and at the beginning of the second quarter, when Clemson took at 17-7 lead, their fans were going crazy in anticipation of another dominant championship victory like last year’s win over ‘Bama.

But LSU’s defense responded with the perfect adjustments and were able to shut the vaunted Clemson offense down; Clemson was just 1-of-11 on third down for the game.

Burrow, the QB who Nebraska would not offer a scholarship and who was relegated to second string at Ohio State, showed his greatness, tossing pinpoint perfect strikes to an NFL-quality receiving corps and scrambling for key first downs.

As LSU went on a 35-7 run, the energy on the Clemson side drained out, and LSU fans hailed their team and their beloved coach, Ed Orgeron — a local Louisianan, who was fired by Mississippi, passed over by USC after he became the interim coach, and was only hired as an interim coach at LSU.

Orgeron had the guts to ditch LSU’s ground-and-pound reputation and bring in an assistant, Joe Brady, who designed the greatest offense in the history of college football.

LSU has the most impressive resume of any team claiming “the best of all time.”

This year LSU beat five of the top seven ranked schools in the final Associated Press poll — Clemson, Georgia (Sugar Bowl winner), Florida (Orange Bowl winner), Alabama (Citrus Bowl winner) and Oklahoma — plus No. 14 Auburn and No. 25 Texas.

After the game there was no burning cars and couches and climbing up flag poles. I saw no fights down in the French Quarter.

Just a passionate fan base reveling in a victory and a championship for a team that represents everything that is great about Louisiana.

Kaufman is an Altoona native, attorney and traveling sports fan. He hosts a Monday night radio show called “Ira on Sports,” that can be heard on FM95.9 and FM106.9 in West Palm Beach, Florida and is available on Sound Cloud and iTunes under Ira on Sports.


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