QBs shine in college football playoffs

David Silverstein, Staff Writer

The top four ranked college football teams in the nation squared off in two semi-final playoff games on Dec. 28.  In the first game, the Peach Bowl, the first-seeded 13-0 Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers played the fourth seeded 12-1 Oklahoma Sooners.  The second game, the Fiesta Bowl, featured two undefeated teams: the second seeded Ohio State Buckeyes and third ranked Clemson Tigers.  Each of these teams came from Power Five conferences and earned their spot in the competition.

Game 1 matched up two Heisman trophy finalists.  This year’s winner, Joe Burrow of LSU, played against runner-up Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma.  LSU headed into the game projected to win by two touchdowns but it quickly became clear the game would not be that close.   

By the end of the first quarter, Burrow had passed for three touchdowns and LSU led Oklahoma 21-7.  Two of Burrow’s first quarter touchdowns went to wide receiver Justin Jefferson.  In the second quarter, Burrow threw two more touchdowns to Jefferson, along with one to both Thaddeus Moss and Terrace Marshall Jr..  

Jefferson ended the day with 14 catches for 227 yards and four touchdowns.  While Burrow was cruising in the first half, Hurts was stuck in neutral.   He had no throwing touchdowns and one interception.  He did rush for a touchdown, though, in the second quarter.   

At the half, the score was 49-14 LSU.  On the first drive of the second half,  Burrow added to the lead, running it in for a two yard score.  Burrow finished the day 29 for 39 with 515 total yards and eight total touchdowns, despite being pulled out of the game in the middle of the third quarter.   

Meanwhile, the Hesiman runner up, Hurts, threw for only 217 yards and one interception, but rushed for 43 yards and two rushing touchdowns.  

“I quite honestly did not expect LSU to demolish Oklahoma the way they did.  I expected Jalen Hurts to be more efficient out of the pocket,” said freshman Sam Rothenberg.  

The final score of the game was 63-28 in favor of LSU, a more lopsided outcome than anyone expected.  

The second game also featured two elite quarterbacks, Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, last year’s National Champion, against Justin Fields of Ohio State.  Clemson was favored to win the game by a field goal, but Ohio State began the game dominating.  

In the first quarter, Buckeye running back J.K. Dobbins scored a 68 yard touchdown after a field goal by Blake Haubeil.  At the beginning of the second quarter, the Buckeyes kicked two more field goals which extended their lead to 16-0.  After a shaky start from Clemson, Travis Etienne rushed for an eight yard touchdown and Lawrence ran for a 67 yard touchdown to cut the Buckeye lead to 16-14 at the half. 

“I expected a hot start from Ohio State but I knew there was more in store for Trevor Lawrence,” said freshman Ethan Rotko.  

In the third quarter, Clemson ran a screenplay for Etienne, who scored a 53 yard touchdown to give the Tigers their first lead of the night.  With 4:54 left in the third quarter, Clemson receiver, Justyn Ross, seemed to fumble, leading to an apparent touchdown by the Buckeyes. 

After review, however, the referees came to the conclusion that it was an incomplete pass.  The Buckeyes eventually regained the lead after a receiving touchdown by Chris Olave.  With 1:49 to go in the game, Lawrence completed a pass to Etienne for 34 yards and a touchdown.  Lawrence ended the day with 366 total yards, 107 of them running, and three total touchdowns.  

Etienne also had three touchdowns, on 36 rushing yards and 98 receiving yards.  Meanwhile, Fields looked to be matching Lawrence.  However, with 37 seconds remaining in the game, Fields threw an interception in the endzone, sealing the 29-23 win for Clemson.

These playoffs were a very exciting way to end an otherwise lackluster college football season.