Clemson's Trevor Lawrence enters the Jan. 13 title tilt with LSU a perfect 25-0 as the starter
The No. 1 LSU Tigers are set to square off with the third-ranked Clemson Tigers on Monday night in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Hosted at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the contest will be a pseudo home game for the Bayou Bengals.
Despite sharing a nickname, and dubbing their home fields "Death Valley," LSU and Clemson don’t have much of a history. The two elite programs have played one another just three times to date, with the most recent coming in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 25-24 Clemson victory. LSU won the two previous meetings, also in bowl games, 10-7 in the 1996 Peach Bowl, and 7-0 in the 1959 Sugar Bowl — which capped LSU’s 1958 national championship.
What other interesting tidbits await? We take a closer look at the numbers and offer 10 stats, facts, and figures you need to know for the national championship game:
0: Number of career losses for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence
Lawrence signed with Clemson as the No. 1-rated recruit in 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite. He played in 15 games as a true freshman and made 11 starts. The Tigers won them all, including a 44-16 victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Lawrence has started every game of the 2019 season for the Tigers, and again won them all while throwing for 3,431 yards and 36 touchdowns in the process. He is 25-0 as a starter, and the Tigers have won 29 in a row — every game since Lawrence put pen to paper to sign with Dabo Swinney’s squad.
3: Number of touchdown passes Joe Burrow needs to tie the FBS single-season record
If Burrow connects for three touchdown passes against Clemson — something he has done in 12 of LSU's 14 games this season, including each of the last six — he'll tie the FBS record of 58 touchdown passes in a single season. If Burrow throws four (something he's done eight times already this season) he'll break former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan's 2006 record.
Burrow also is 625 passing yards shy of the single-season mark set by B.J. Symons in 2003 (5,833). Reaching that mark is highly unlikely against the elite Clemson defense. Yet if Burrow were to throw for his 2019 season average of 372.0 passing yards to finish with 5,580, he would rise to fifth on the single-season leaderboard, one spot ahead of Brennan.
3.30: Clemson's net yards per play in 2019
The Clemson offense averaged 7.46 yards per play through its first 14 games of the season, which ranks fourth in the country behind Oklahoma (7.96), LSU (7.91), and Alabama (7.89).
Clemson also features one of the best defenses in the nation and ranks No. 2 overall with an average of 4.16 yards per play allowed (0.03 behind Ohio State). LSU has surrendered 5.05 yards per snap, which ranks 27th.
By subtracting yards per play allowed on defense from the yards per play an offense gains, we can see a snapshot of how well a team has performed overall. Clemson has outgained its opponents by an average of 3.30 yards per play — the best margin in the nation.
LSU outgained its opponents by an average of 2.86 yards per play, which is still incredibly impressive and ranks third nationally (No. 2 Alabama finished at 3.08). However, it's worth noting the large 0.44-yard gap between the two title game participants is slightly larger than the net yards per play achieved by Temple in 2019, which ranks No. 51 overall among FBS teams.
4: Times the national title has been decided in New Orleans
This marks the fourth time the national championship game will be played in New Orleans in the Superdome since the beginning of the BCS era (1998-99 season). Every time it has been played in the Big Easy, LSU has been a part of the game. The Tigers won in 2004 and '07, and lost to Alabama in 2011.
Also of note: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will lead the Tigers in their fourth CFP National Championship Game. Clemson lost to Alabama at the conclusion of the 2015 season and beat the Crimson Tide following both the 2016 and '18 campaigns. Furthermore, an LSU win would give the Tigers national title No. 4, having been crowned in 1958 and winning the BCS title in 2003 and '07.
12: National awards won by LSU players and coaches in 2020
Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy, given to the best individual player in college football. Burrow also won the Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards (both of which hold a similar set of criteria as the Heisman). He also won the Davey O’Brien Award, which is given to the top quarterback in the country, as well as the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
But LSU's 2019 awards success extended beyond its record-setting quarterback. Safety Grant Delpit won the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back, Ja'Marr Chase took home the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation's top wide receiver, and the Tigers' offensive line won the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation's top unit. Head coach Ed Orgeron has been honored as National Coach of the Year on three separate occasions, and passing coordinator Joe Brady earned the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant.
Clemson had just one national award winner this season, All-American Isaiah Simmons, who won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker.
25: LSU hasn't trailed an opponent in 25 quarters
The last team to hold a lead over LSU was Auburn, which led 13-10 in the third quarter of their Oct. 26 game. Six opponents have come and gone since, including three who were ranked in the top four of the national polls at the time.
Meanwhile, Clemson saw its 34-quarter streak — which dated back to the second quarter of the Sept. 28 game against North Carolina — come to an end when the Tigers fell behind 16-0 against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson later trailed 23-21 late in the fourth quarter. But with 1:34 left in regulation, Trevor Lawrence connected with running back Travis Etienne on a 34-yard touchdown pass to take the lead and win the game, 29-23.
81.3: Number of miles from LSU’s Tiger Stadium to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome
LSU has a history of success in New Orleans, and for good reason. The Superdome is basically home turf, located just over 81 miles from Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Clemson must travel 593 miles to the game, which is obviously farther than LSU, but it's still a shorter distance than the nearly 2,600-mile trip to the site of last year's national title game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
But Louisiana — and New Orleans in particular — has been unkind to Clemson historically. Clemson last played in New Orleans in the 2017 CFP Semifinal Sugar Bowl when the Tigers lost 24-6 to Alabama. From 1937-85, Clemson was just 3-7 in the Pelican State, and all three victories came in regular-season contests against Tulane. The only time Clemson played LSU in Louisiana? The 1959 Sugar Bowl, which concluded LSU's first national championship season.
202: Pass attempts since Trevor Lawrence threw an interception
There was a lot of chatter early in the season about Lawrence going through a sophomore slump. Lawrence was intercepted on eight of the first 168 pass attempts of the 2019 season — all coming in the first eight games of the year. He has since thrown 202 passes without being picked off — a span that includes seven full games. Lawrence's streak is the longest in Clemson history and the longest active streak among FBS quarterbacks.
$1,001: Starting ticket price for the National Championship Game on the secondary market
As of Tuesday, Jan. 7, fans hoping to purchase tickets to the game would need to fork over more than $1,000 per seat, according to Ticket IQ. This time last year, fans could secure an upper deck ticket to see Clemson clash with Alabama at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, for as little as $173. The nearby LSU faithful, plus the 12-year LSU title drought, has driven up prices considerably compared to last season.
5,000, 1,000, 2x1,000: LSU is the first team in college football history to produce a 5,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher, and two 1,000-yard receivers
LSU's offense has been truly historic this season. Burrow has completed 77.6 percent of his passes this season, which would set an NCAA record, and he has set countless school and SEC marks while running up the largest winning margin in Heisman Trophy history. But he's had help from some of the best skill position players in the country.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 1,304 yards and 16 touchdowns this season while averaging 6.55 yards per carry. Wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase caught 75 passes for 1,559 yards and 18 touchdowns, and fellow wideout Justin Jefferson was on the receiving end of 102 passes for 1,434 yards and scored 18 times.
Together, the quartet became the first in SEC history to include a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher, and two 1,000-yard receivers. But when Burrow surpassed 5,000 passing yards, the group became the first in college football history to reach those thresholds.