One of the most glaring storylines heading into the 2019 National Championship game is the matchup between two of the greatest quarterbacks to have ever touched the field, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and LSU’s Joe Burrow.
Since breaking onto the college football scene as the No. 1 rated recruit in the country, all Trevor Lawrence has done is win 25 straight games as a starter. Oh, and he was named MVP of the 2018 National Championship game and will be looking for his second title on Monday night. There have been few players that have broken onto the collegiate scene with expectations as high as they were for Lawrence, and even fewer have met or even exceeded such lofty expectations. But, Lawrence has done just that.
After a relatively pedestrian start to the 2019 season, Lawrence has quietly put up 44 total touchdowns and nearly 4,000 total yards. In his last seven games, Lawrence has accounted for 25 touchdowns and zero turnovers. Like Burrow, Lawrence has consistently been at the top of his game when his team needs it most. Though most point to Lawrence’s freakish passing ability as the reason for his success, he is also one of the most elite mobile quarterbacks when he chooses to be. Against Ohio State’s strong passing defense in the College Football Playoff semifinal, Clemson’s passing game was stagnant after Tee Higgins went down with an injury. Instead of forcing the ball downfield, Lawrence attacked the Buckeyes with his legs. Lawrence racked up 107 yards and a touchdown on the ground, including a 67-yard rumble to give Clemson momentum late in the second half. For the first time, Lawrence showed the world the full potential of his abilities against Ohio State. On Monday night, he’ll get the chance to do so once again.
Unlike Lawrence, Burrow has followed an unconventional path to collegiate superstardom. While Lawrence racked up 30 touchdowns and led his team to become undefeated National Champions as a freshman in 2018, Burrow threw for just 16 touchdowns in a three-loss season for LSU as a junior. Flashback even further and most of Burrow’s career highlights would have been found on the Ohio State practice field where he served as a backup to Dwayne Haskins and J.T. Barrett. The former three-star recruit seemed destined for a collegiate career of mediocrity until 2019.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Burrow turned his career around to the tune of 5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns and a whopping 77.6% completion percentage in 2019. In his most recent game, Burrow tallied seven touchdowns in the first half alone in the College Football Playoff against Oklahoma. Oh and by the way, he brought the Heisman Trophy back to Baton Rouge.
Though Burrow has been off the charts statistically, perhaps the most impressive aspect of his game has been the intangibles. Burrow has been at his best in the biggest moments, making incredible play after incredible play at critical times throughout the season. Burrow has led his Tigers to wins over six top-ten teams thus far, making his stat line even more impressive. Coming into the season, Burrow would not have been found on anyone’s NFL draft board. Now? He’s the consensus No. 1 pick.
With Burrow being the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, and Lawrence likely following in his footsteps in 2021, this year’s National Championship will likely go down in history as one of the greatest position battles of all time. While Burrow will have the home field advantage playing in New Orleans, Lawrence has been on this stage before. Whichever Tiger comes out on top on Monday night, we’re all but guaranteed to get excellent quarterback play on both sides of the ball.