Clemson's 42-25 loss to Louisiana State University in Monday night's national championship game was no doubt a sad outcome for (orange) Tiger fans, but it does little to dim Clemson's remarkable run.
Clemson's 29-game winning streak was snapped Monday night in the College Football Playoff championship game.
Before Monday, Clemson's football team was riding a 29-game winning streak, the longest in school history and one of the longest ever in the nation. Ultimately, Clemson came up short in its bid for a third national title in four years, but its program remains among the nation's elite.
Monday's game was competitive until the fourth quarter, when LSU's masterful quarterback Joe Burrow scored his fifth passing touchdown (he also ran for another). Mr. Burrow's performance proved that Heisman voters knew what they were doing last month, when Burrow won the prestigious trophy and Clemson's star QB Trevor Lawrence finished seventh in the voting.
The Clemson Tigers started auspiciously in both halves Monday night, but LSU dominated late. After trailing 28-15 at halftime, Clemson stopped LSU and forced those Tigers to punt. Clemson then marched down the field to score a touchdown and add a two-point conversion to pull within a field goal. But its offense would struggle the rest of the night, and its defense would allow two more LSU scores.
Clemson sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence suffered his first college loss as the Tigers fell to LSU in the College Football Playoff national championship game. Lawrence fared better after the game, crediting LSU and taking the blame even as coaches and teammates had his back.
Still, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has plenty to look forward to come this fall: He has many excellent returning players, a talented coaching staff and a solid fan base. As we've noted, Mr. Swinney’s success is attributable to the unique family atmosphere and culture he has cultivated. One image near the end of Monday's game, of Mr. Swinney holding Mr. Lawrence's head, is widely seen as evidence of his highly effective, highly personal style.
And let's keep things in perspective: Monday's loss was a setback, not a tragedy. As Post and Courier sports columnist Gene Sapakoff noted: "Dabo Swinney and Co. can't wait to get back to New Orleans. That's right, the Superdome is the site of a College Football Playoff semifinal next year. If Clemson isn't No. 1 in preseason polls, it's probably No. 2 behind Ohio State."
NEW ORLEANS — Clemson ran into a better bunch of Tigers on Monday night, LSU’s best-ever team.
Meanwhile, it's also important to note how this year's college football playoff shows the wisdom behind expanding the process of crowning a champion.
Without that expansion to a four-team playoff five years ago, either Clemson or Ohio State — a team many thought was the nation's second best — would have been on the outside looking in. Instead, the matter was settled on the field, as it should be, and we can all be thankful for that.