NEW ORLEANS – In a few years the details will be blurry. The memories are running out.
It will sound impossible, but the Superdome was silent the night the LSU broke through its 12-year drought at the championship. It'll sound implausible, but the Heisman-winning quarterback sucking on a cigar couldn't move the chains.
Joe Burrow opened the national championship game on Monday with three consecutive games. The team with the highest score in the third round of the country also ended with a jump-off.
The plans, which had worked perfectly, were crumbling against an opponent who hadn't lost in two calendar years, twelve months away from the most embarrassing dynasty in college football history.
Clemson met first. It had won 50 games in a row when it scored the first goal. Clemson led the way with 10 points in the second quarter. It was the LSU's biggest deficit this season, the first since October 26. Trevor Lawrence had never lost and looked like he would never lose. It formed the basis for the greatest college career ever.
Then Burrow froze into the biggest season the sport had ever seen.
Less than six minutes later, the LSU was ahead and permanent hearing damage was the price. The LSU ended its first unbeaten season since 1958 due to a quarterback approaching perfection and completing his college career with 463 yards passing and six touchdowns. At the same time, the LSU set the bar for one-season passing touchdowns (60) and added 58 yards of rushing in top LSUs (15-0) 42-25 win over Clemson.
"This is what I wanted since I was 5 to get this trophy," said Burrow. "This is something special."
Throughout the season, Burrow made most of the second halves irrelevant, resulting in the LSU gaining an average of more than 32 points since mid-November.
Then the dome fell silent. The title drought threatened to extend to another decade. Burrow wouldn't let doubts feel comfortable.
It took 81 seconds for the LSU to end its first double-digit deficit after receiving a 56-yard pass and 3-yard touchdown from Burrow on Ja’Marr Chase. The handover of the graduates made the degrading decision for A.J. continued in the first round. Terrell, who delivered a beautifully thrown 14-yard score to Chase in the corner. Shortly before half-time, Burrow ran third-and-long for 29 yards and prepared a 6-yard goal for Thaddeus Moss 10 seconds before half-time, which increased the LSU to 28-17.
"We didn't want to let anyone in here and steal it in our home state," said Burrow. "We wanted to fix this
There would be fireworks in the air and purple and gold confetti on the floor. There would be chaos in the French Quarter. A statue of Burrow would be built in Baton Rouge.
There would be immortality for the Ohio native, who tossed a total of 37 passes in his first three years in Ohio State, and whose memorable first SEC season reinforced the belief that the ban would come to Bourbon Street before a legendary quarterback would come to the LSU.
"I don't know anything about the whole heroism, but I know that this national championship in Louisiana will be remembered for a long time," said Burrow. "It's even more special in New Orleans."
The LSU never lacked stars. They came from the distance, from the ditches and from the hinterland. They came from everywhere, but under the middle.
Since 1973, only one LSU quarterback has been included in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. He, JaMarcus Russell, could be the biggest defeat in NFL history, the No. 1 overall 2007 defeat in his last game in 2009.
There was a decade of trust in people like Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Zach Mettenberger, Anthony Jennings, Brandon Harris and Danny Etling. Alabama has suffered torture for eight years, including lockouts in two of the last three years.
Burrow was set to become an vacant free agent after completing 57.8 percent of his passports last season. He ended his season with 78 percent of his passes and became the first player to get off the board in the next NFL draft.
Burrow threw for 493 yards and scored a total of eight touchdowns in the semi-final win over Oklahoma. He crowned it by taking apart the best defense in the nation.
"We wouldn't be here without Joe Burrow," said head coach Ed Orgeron. "We are so grateful to Joe Burrow."
In the last practice of the LSU, Burrow defied tradition and refused to be carried off the field. After the SEC title game, he would not accept the game ball.
After grabbing a knee the last time he had possession of the game, Burrow pointed to his left ring finger to join soon. He clutched the ball in his left arm for a few minutes. It was soon replaced by a championship title.
Then the cigar came.