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Stan Becton | | September 30, 2021

Joe Burrow vs. Trevor Lawrence: Remembering the 2019-20 College Football Playoff National Championship

Before becoming two of the NFL's brightest young stars, quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence met head-to-head for the first and only time of their collegiate careers in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship. 

With Burrow and Lawrence meeting again in the NFL, it will mark the fourth time a pair of starting quarterbacks have met in both a National Championship Game and in the NFL since the inaugural BCS title game in the 1998 season. Burrow's and Lawrence’s first meeting will also be the first starting quarterback matchup between national championship-winning quarterbacks since Vince Young’s Tennessee Titans vs. Matt Leinart’s Arizona Cardinals in 2009. 

Just as Young and Leinart competed for a national championship in the 2005-06 season, Burrow and Lawrence followed suit 14 years later looking to add their names to college football history with a victory against a fellow premier prospect.

Here’s how they got there.

Burrow's top-seeded LSU Tigers entered the game 14-0, making their first College Football Playoff appearance. During the regular season, Burrow rocketed into the spotlight in his second year for the Tigers, transferring after losing the starting job at Ohio State. Burrow surprised much of the country in 2019 with an unexpected season for the ages that saw him break records and win the Heisman.

HEISMAN: Here's how Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy

Lawrence's third-seeded Clemson Tigers entered 14-0 on a 29-game winning streak as the defending national champions. After joining Clemson as one of the highest regarded high school recruits in history, Lawrence took over the starting quarterback job five games into his freshman year. Lawrence was spectacular from there, winning every game while becoming only the second true freshman quarterback in history to win the national championship (Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1986).

Despite Burrow and Lawrence’s different journeys, the quarterbacks entered the final game of the 2019-20 season with a chance to add another accolade. 

After a slow start for both teams in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship, Clemson took an early lead behind Lawrence’s legs for the opening score. But Burrow would throw three touchdowns and rush for another, highlighting an explosive first half that finished with LSU up 28-17. In the second half, Burrow marveled, tossing two more touchdowns as LSU ran away with a 42-25 victory. 

GEAUX TIGERS: Relive LSU's National Championship run

For Lawrence, the defeat marked his first loss since a high school defeat on Nov. 17, 2017. Lawrence was held scoreless through the air for the first time since a 2018 game against Syracuse, where he exited the game with a second-quarter injury.

In the win, Burrow passed for his 60th touchdown, a single-season FBS record. He also set the record for most touchdowns responsible for in a season with 65. Burrow's six total touchdowns and 521 combined yards set a national championship game record during the BCS and College Football Playoff era. Burrow finished third all-time in passing yards with 5,671 in a season — all only one year after he passed for 2,894 yards and 16 touchdowns in the 2018 season.

Here are the game statistics for the quarterbacks:

Burrow 31 49 63.3 463 9.4 5 0 176.3 58 1
Lawrence 18 37 48.6 234 6.3 0 0 101.8 49 1

Burrow was named offensive MVP for the national championship game, capping off a remarkable year. He became the 16th player to win the Heisman and a national championship in the same year. 

LSU's win marked the Tigers’ fourth national championship. After the game, Burrow entered the 2020 NFL Draft, where the Cincinnati Bengals selected him first overall.

Clemson suffered their first loss since the 2017-18 season. Lawrence returned for his junior season and again led Clemson to the College Football Playoff, where the Tigers fell to Ohio State 49-28 in the semifinal (Sugar Bowl). After the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Lawrence No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

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