Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give Clemson a 25-24 victory over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Monday night.
It was the first of several bowl games involving Southeastern Conference teams serving notice that, with the exception of Alabama, the league may not be quite as dominant as a lot of people believed it was.
A lot of LSU fans apparently thought all the Tigers had to do was show up to beat Clemson. But Clemson drove 80 yards in the last two minutes, converting a fourth-and-16 with a 26-yard pass from Tajh Boyd to DeAndre Hopkins.
Catanzaro's kick set off a wild celebration on the field and in the stands. Some players collapsed on the field in apparent disbelief while Clemson players met in a midfield circle.
Hopkins, who had 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns, also had receptions for 7 and 13 yards in the final drive. LSU safety Greg Reid was flagged for pass interference while defending Hopkins.
Jeremy Hill ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns for LSU (10-3), which carried a 24-13 lead into the final quarter.
Boyd completed 36 of 50 passes for 346 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He set career highs for attempts and completions while winning the game MVP award.
LSU scored 10 points off Clemson's two lost fumbles, including one by Sammy Watkins on the second play of the game that set up Hill's first touchdown.
Hopkins scored on an 11-yard reception in the second quarter and a 12-yard grab in the fourth. LSU's Bennie Logan blocked Catanzaro's extra-point attempt following Hopkins' first touchdown.
For LSU, playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl is a bit of a disappointment. Losing a Chick-fil-A Bowl is even more disappointing. With LSU winning 10 or more games in six of its last eight seasons, Tiger fans have lifted their expectations a bit.
Most college football teams would be happy to finish a season with a 10-3 record. But LSU may be the victim of its own success. Tiger fans may be a bit spoiled, as they aren’t satisfied with a 10-3 season that ends with a Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Clemson.
This is only the third LSU team in the last eight years that has lost more than two games.
Of course, another Southeastern Conference powerhouse has even higher expectations.
Any Alabama team that doesn’t make a serious bid for the national championship is considered a major disappointment.
The Crimson Tide has been winning with such monotonous regularity that people are wondering what kind of coach Nick Saban would be in the National Football League.
Saban wouldn’t enjoy as much success in the NFL because he wouldn’t be coaching teams that have twice as much talent as their opponents week after week in the NFL.
Of course, recruiting talented players is part of a college coach’s job. But ever since Paul “Bear” Bryant went to Alabama in 1958, the Tide has had no problem attracting more than its share of great football players.
Any coach who can’t win 10 games a year at Alabama (or LSU) is in the wrong business.