GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Heisman Trophy eluded Leonard Fournette, but not the FBS rushing title.
Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry of Alabama needed to rush for 381 yards against Clemson in Monday night’s CFP Championship Game to surpass Fournette’s 162.8 yards per game average.
Henry finished with 158 yards on 36 carries, giving Fournette the title.
The sophomore from St. Augustine becomes the first LSU player ever to lead the nation in rushing and is the first Southeastern Conference player to do so since John “Kayo” Dottley of Ole Miss in 1949.
Henry wound up leading the nation with 2,219 yards rushing, the first SEC back to surpass 2,000 yards, but the NCAA has determined its rushing champion by yards per game since 1970.
Aranda’s defense No. 1 in scoring
Wayne Gallman’s third-quarter touchdown run for Clemson gave his team a 24-21 lead and was enough scoring to move the Wisconsin defense coached by new LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda back to No. 1 in the FBS in points allowed this season.
The Badgers were No. 1 in the nation allowing 13.7 points per game until Alabama shut out Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl.
The Badgers, who lost 35-17 to Alabama in their season opener, finished in the top four nationally in scoring, rushing and pass efficiency defense.
LSU represented on the field
Former LSU quarterback Bert Jones was one of three members of the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016 on the field for Monday night’s pregame coin toss.
Jones, who played for the Tigers from 1970-72, was a consensus All-American as a senior and finished fourth in the 1972 Heisman Trophy balloting.
Where do we go from here?
The national semifinals complete their rotation among the six CFP bowls next season, with games Dec. 31 in the Peach Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl here in Glendale.
The 2017 CFP national championship game, which is awarded on a bid basis like the Super Bowl or Final Four, will be Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The CFP semifinals rotate back to the Sugar and Rose bowls for the 2017 season, with the national title game set for Jan. 8, 2018, at the soon-to-be completed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, new home of the Falcons.
The next two CFP title games after that will be Jan. 7, 2019, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, (site of next month’s Super Bowl) and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 13, 2020.
Monday’s victory by Alabama allowed the SEC to improve on what was already the best bowl record to finish the postseason at 9-2.
The ACC finished 4-6.
Officials for Monday’s championship game were from the Pac-12 Conference. … This was the 55th meeting between teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2, but only the third meeting in FBS history between two teams with at least 13 wins. Alabama and Texas were 13-0 going into the 2010 BCS title game, while Ohio State and Oregon were both 13-1 going into last year’s inaugural CFP title game. … As the No. 1-ranked team, Clemson wore home orange, while No. 2 Alabama wore road white. … Ciara sang the national anthem.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.