Burrow has already run the race of his Life. But now he can see the finish line

MrCFB

New Orleans—Joe Burrow looked like a thoroughbred who knows he has already run the race of his life.

But now he can see the finish line.

The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner has put together one of the greatest statistical seasons in the history of the sport: Only six players in history have thrown for more yards in a season that his 5,208. Only one has thrown more than his 55 touchdown passes (Colt Brennan, Hawaii, 58 in 2006).

With 114 yards passing in Monday night’s CFP national championship game against Clemson, he will break the LSU career record 9,115 yards, set by Tommy Hodson (1986-89). Hodson set the record in four seasons. Burrow will do it in just TWO seasons.

Burrow’s statistical achievements go on and on and on. And regardless of how Monday night’s game turns out, they can never take away those accomplishments.

Many of the records he has set during the 2019 season will never be broken. And as long as they play football at LSU’s Tiger Stadium, fans will speak fondly—and with reverence--of the legend that is Joe Burrow. Until now, Billy Cannon (the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner) and Bert Jones (LSU’s only other first-team All-America quarterback in 1972) have long reigned as the school’s football icons. Burrow has joined that exclusive fraternity this season.

But a great story—and Burrow’s pilgrimage from his native Ohio and his embrace by the LSU family is a truly great story—has to have a great ending.

That is why the usually laser-focused Burrow was even more so at Saturday’s media day. He knows that he will never fully appreciate everything he has accomplished this season if he doesn’t walk off the floor of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a national championship.

“I don’t think of it as a special game,” said Burrow. “I just want to prepare for this like any other game. We’ve come a long way by just doing what we do.”

If Burrow has felt pressure in the run up to this game he hasn’t shown it—on the field or off. He has come up with his best in the biggest games:

**-- At No. 7 Texas on Sept. 7, he threw for 474 yards and four touchdowns, including a 61-yard strike for the winning score (45-38)

**--Against Florida he completed 21 of 24 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns.

**--Against Alabama he completed 31 of 39 passes for 393 and three

touchdowns.

**--Against Georgia in the SEC championship game he completed 28 of 38 passes 349 yards and four touchdowns.

**--Against Oklahoma in the semifinals of the playoffs he completed 29 of 39 passes for a career-high 493 yards.

“He’s unbelievable,” said Brent Venables, the Clemson defensive coordinator, who has had two weeks to get his unit ready for the Heisman Trophy winner. “He gets them out of a bad play and into the right play. He has incredible accuracy. If there is a hole in your coverage he will find it.”

In his session with the media on Saturday Burrow made it clear that the quarterback on the other side of the field—Clemson sophomore Trevor Lawrence—is one of the best he’s ever seen.

“The quarterback position is the most important in all of sports,” said Burrow. “And myself and Trevor are the two best at our position. That’s a big reason both teams are here.

“He (Trevor Lawrence) is a really good player. Very smooth. And still young. He’s light years ahead of where I was at his age.”

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney suggests that fans enjoy Monday night’ quarterback match-up of Burrow—the likely No. 1 pick in the April NFL Draft—and Lawrence, the almost certain No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft.

“These are two elite quarterbacks who are getting ready to duel it out,” said Swinney. “You could change helmets and jerseys and you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.”

Swinney was asked what advice he had for his defense, which will try to hold Burrow and his offense under their nation’s-best average of 48.9 points per game.

“You just have to hold on and do the best you can,” said Swinney. “You have to tighten up everything. And you have to remember that every play matters. I just hope we make them punt once.

“Joe is incredible, but he also has greatness behind him.”

LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger said there is a painting of an Eagle in the office of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron. The inscription on the painting says: “He who searches for two rats will get none.”

In other words: Focus on the task at hand.

“Every time I see that Eagle eye I think of Joe,” Ensminger said.

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Tony Barnhart

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