It’s impossible to say, with certainty, that a specific team was the best in college football history. Or that that this team had the best season, ever, in CFB history.
But you can make a damn convincing case for LSU, which capped an amazing season by toppling defending-champion Clemson 42-25 in Monday’s CFP title bout.
After a slow start, and needing time to assess Clemson’s 3-7-1 defensive alignment and tricky blitz package, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow led his team and the Bayou Bengals’ fan base to an early Mardis Gras parade in New Orleans.
LSU erased the deficit by outscoring Clemson 35-8 the rest of the way … eviscerating an outstanding Clemson team that had won 29 consecutive games … a Clemson program that had won two of the previous three national titles … a Clemson dynasty that entered the game with a 69-4 record since the start of the 2015 season … a Clemson beast that hadn’t lost a game in 742 days.
Despite a tentative and uneven start, Burrow got zoned in and passed for 463 yards and five touchdowns and added 58 yards rushing and a ground TD.
Burrow was responsible for 502 yards and six touchdowns worth of serious damage. LSU’s yards total (631) was the most yielded against a Clemson defense since Florida State rolled up 667 yards against the Tigers in September 22, 2012.
The conquest was complete. After giving up 17 early points, LSU’s defense erected a blockade that stopped Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and his offense. In its final eight possessions after taking that 17-7 lead, Clemson punted six times, scored one touchdown, lost a fumble and managed only 147 yards on 35 plays.
This was a beatdown.
So what are LSU’s credentials for the unofficial honor of the best single-season team of the modern era?
With the assistance of ESPN Stats & Info, let’s go to the bullet points:
This 2019 LSU powerhouse is only the fourth team in major college football history to go 15-0 or better in a season. The others: Yale (16-0 in 1894), Pennsylvania (15-0) in 1897 and Clemson (15-0 in 2018.)
This is the only team in SEC history to go 15-0. And the Bengal Tigers are only the ninth undefeated national champion in SEC history.
LSU is the first team in AP Poll history (which began in 1936) to beat each of the preseason AP Top 4 teams in a single season. That includes the last three wins LSU’s season — blowouts over Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson.
LSU won seven games against Top-10 opponents, the most by a team in a season during the AP Poll Era. And LSU won those seven games by an average of 15.4 points.
LSU won four games vs Top 5 opponents. Only two others have don that during the AP Poll Era: Notre Dame in 1943 and USC in 1967.
LSU averaged 48.4 points per game scored 726 points, the most in a season during the AP Poll Era. LSU scored 40+ points in 12 games, tied for the most in a season in the AP Poll Era; five of those 40+ games came against AP Top 10 teams — the most in a season in the AP Poll Era.
LSU players and coaches won a couple of shelves worth of prestigious awards this season including the Heisman Trophy (Burrow), Maxwell (Burrow), Walter Camp (Burrow), Davey O’Brien (Burrow), Biletnikoff (wideout Ja’Marr Chase), Jim Thorpe (DB Grant Delpit), Coach of the Year (Ed Orgeron) and the Frank Broyles for best assistant coach (Joe Brady.)
The Tigers only trailed by double digits once the entire season; that happened in Monday’s skirmish with Clemson.
LSU is the only team in FBS history to have a 5,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,500-yard receivers in the same season.
This season Orgeron’s team defeated three active coaches that have won nine national championships combined: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher.
And LSU gets extra credit for being the kingpin of the best conference in the land. You may not like it, but LSU was the SEC’s 10th national football champ since 2006. An SEC team has won 12 of the last 22 national championships including the remarkable seven-season streak that lasted from 2006 through 2012. Moreover, an SEC representative has competed in 13 of the last 14 national championship games.
Since were handing out “best” tags, Burrow is worthy of special praise. Considering that he faced more Top 10 teams in a season than any QB during the AP Poll ERA, his list of accomplishments is absolutely stunning …
— Burrow finished the season with 60 passing touchdowns and 65 touchdowns responsible for; both are the highest totals in a season in FBS history. Total passing yards: 5,671.
— His 463 passing yards against Clemson, was the most in a BCS/CFP championship game. His six touchdowns Monday were the most in a BCS/CFP championship.
— In going 7-0 against Top 10 opponents Burrow averaged 397.5 yards passing per game, threw 27 touchdowns with only two interceptions, completed 75 percent of this throws and accounted for 30 TDs.
— In his three postseason games, each played against Top Four teams, Burrow shredded Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson for an average of 435 yards passing, 16 touchdown passes, no interceptions and two rushing TDs. Yep, he accounted for 18 touchdowns in three games.
— Burrow finished the season with a 76.3% completion percentage, the second best in FBS history. Colt McCoy (Texas) completed 76.7 percent in 2008.
— Had six games with at least five passing touchdowns, most in a season in SEC history
— Burrow received 90.7% of the first-place votes for the Heisman Trophy, busting the record held by Ohio State QB Troy Smith (86.7% in 2006.)
— Burrow received 1,846 more points than Heisman runner-up Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), the largest margin of victory in Heisman history.
There’s more, of course.
But no need to run up the score. LSU and Joe Burrow are the best.
Thanks for reading …