Ed Orgeron reached 40 wins faster than any coach in LSU program history on Monday night when the Tigers claimed their first national title since 2007 with a 42-25 blowout of Clemson in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Larose native secured his 40th win in just his 49th game since taking over as interim head coach five games into the 2016 season.
With an overall 40-9 mark, Orgeron, who was named permanent head coach on Nov. 26, 2016, has won 81.6% of his games with the Tigers.
Les Miles, whom Orgeron succeeded, needed 50 games to collect his 40th win.
Other LSU coaches that have won at least 40 games are Nick Saban, who needed 53 games to reach that mark; Charles McClendon (57), Bernie Moore (57) and Paul Dietzel (67).
Scoring machine rolls on
When Joe Burrow declared last June that LSU’s updated offense would have the ability to put up 40, 50 or 60 points a game, he raised more than a few eyebrows.
But he and the Tigers backed up his words over and over in piling up 15 consecutive wins to claim the school’s first national title since 2007.
In its victory over Clemson, LSU broke the Southeastern Conference single-season scoring record in the first half and topped the Football Bowl Subdivision mark in the second half.
LSU, which tied Alabama’s SEC record of 684 points in a 63-28 romp over Oklahoma in the CFP semifinals on Dec. 28, broke that mark on Burrow’s 52-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase in the first quarter.
Then, after becoming only the second team to score 700 points in a season on Burrow’s 3-yard scoring run in the second quarter, they topped the 723 points Florida State scored in winning the BCS title in 2013 in the fourth quarter.
LSU wound up scoring 40 points in 12 of 15 games, getting 50 points or more on four occasions and 60 or more three times in averaging a nation’s-best 48.4 points per game.
Individual records fall
In addition to winning a national title, Burrow completed his two-year career at LSU when he added two more NCAA marks to a slew of records he’s set this season.
His five touchdown passes gave him 60 for the season, two more than Hawaii’s Colt Brennan had in 2006.
Burrow also had a 3-yard run for his fifth rushing score of the season. Coupled with his 60 TD passes, Burrow was responsible for 65 touchdowns — one more than Brennan.
Chase also got in on the act.
He had a pair of touchdown catches, giving him 20 for the season to break a tie for the school and SEC records he shared with teammate Justin Jefferson going into the game.
Chase had 221 receiving yards Monday night to set a CFP record and also broke school and SEC records for single-season receiving yards. He finished with 1,780 yards, topping Josh Reed’s mark of 1,740 that he held since 2000.
Etienne reaches milestone
Clemson junior running back Travis Etienne, a native of Jennings, Louisiana, set a personal milestone in the third quarter.
Etienne, who was already Clemson’s all-time leading rusher with 3,924 yards, became the first player in school history to crack the 4,000-yard mark with a 6-yard run on his 13th carry of the game.
He finished with 78 yards, giving him 1,578 for the season and 4,004 for his career.
Etienne rushed for 766 yards as a freshman in 2017 and 1,658 yards as a sophomore.
The college career of Clemson senior middle linebacker James Skalski came to a premature end when he was ejected for targeting with 5½ minutes to play in the third quarter.
While helping out on a tackle, Skalski, one of Clemson’s top defenders, appeared to launch himself and hit Jefferson in the neck area after a 7-yard reception.
The play was reviewed for targeting and Skalski was disqualified. Clemson was penalized half the distance to the goal, setting up Burrow’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Thaddeus Moss on the next play.
Orgeron said last week he thought right guard Damien Lewis and wide receiver Terrace Marshall would be ready to play after being injured in the Peach Bowl win over Oklahoma on Dec. 28.
Both missed practice time last week, but were in the lineup for LSU’s first offensive snap against Clemson.
Lewis left the Oklahoma game in the first quarter with an ankle injury and Marshall came out in the third quarter with a shoulder issue.
Clemson defense holds
After putting points on the scoreboard on its opening drive in 12 of its first 14 games, LSU’s offense was stymied by Clemson’s defense.
Starting at its own 7-yard line after a Clemson punt, LSU had a three-and-out and was forced to punt.
Prior to Monday night, LSU had nine touchdowns and three field goals on its first possession. The only other schools to keep LSU off the board on its initial series were Florida and Auburn.
Former LSU defensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Booger McFarland served as guest captain for his alma mater. … LSU’s game captains were Burrow, safety Grant Delpit, center Lloyd Cushenberry and defensive end Rashard Lawrence. … LSU’s Zach Von Rosenberg launched a 56-yard punt in the first quarter, which was the third-longest in CFP history behind a pair of 57-yarders.
The Advocate’s offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette are open Tuesday morning and stocked with extras newspapers and high-quality …
Believe it, LSU fans! The Tigers are the 2020 College Football Playoff champions.