With 10:56 left in the third quarter, Redshirt Junior quarterback Kyle Trask fired a bullet across the middle to push the seventh ranked Gators outfront 28-21 in Death Valley. From that moment until the horn sounded, LSU reminded us all why we may need to forget Alabama & Clemson as the front runners to win this year’s College Football Playoff.
LSU’s defense was suffocating for the final 22 minutes of the ball game. And the Tiger’s “pass now, run later” approach pulled through again as a short six yard run pulled LSU even at 28, while a 33 yard scamper by Tyrion Davis-Price pulled them ahead 35-28 the very next possession. Trask, impressive in his own right, lead the Gators back down the field with the possibility of tying the game at 35. Until an interception in the endzone by Derek Stingley halted their drive and turned the ball back over to LSU. The Tiger’s signal caller, Joe Burrow, ended up making the play that broke the Gator’s backs, as he found Ja’Marr Chase for a 54 yard touchdown down the right sideline directly following the interception. LSU went home happy after a convincing 42-28 win over a fellow SEC rival.
LSU, until this season’s offensive overhaul, was known for pro-style run heavy offense. Often times rendering them ineffective against defenses with plenty of size and speed, like Florida. But with talented QB Joe Burrow returning for his second year with the Tigers (transferred from Ohio State), Head Coach Ed Orgeron decided it was time to open things up. LSU dumped their pro-style set up and promoted Tiger lifer Steve Ensminger to offensive coordinator from tight-ends coach. Now a five wide look and offensive domination are two things LSU is getting used to quickly.
Let me throw some numbers at you. On the season, Burrow is completing 78.4% of his passes while having thrown 22 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions. That’s impressive, but just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a list of QB’s with 300 yards and 3 touchdowns against Florida in the last 10 years: Joe Burrow. That’s it. He’s rocking a 93.0 QBR on the season which is good for fourth in the nation. His efficiency, especially in the always talented SEC, is staggering and is boosting LSU towards real national contender hopes.
Sitting at a perfect 6-0, the Tigers are on a crash course to meet suspected fellow undefeated, Alabama, on November 9th. #12 ranked Auburn and banged up Mississippi State are the only two games standing between LSU and the SEC West juggernaut led by Tua Tagovailoa. Tua v.s. Joe Part I may be the most anticipated game all year at this point. The game should also have serious playoff implications as the loser will still have a decent shot at making the four team playoff field. While the other will represent the SEC in Atlanta (barring absolute mayhem.)
Tagovailoa and Burrow almost have identical stats, with Tua having thrown one more touchdown and two less interceptions. His QBR surpasses Burrow’s by 2.9 points making it the highest in the NCAA. Neither have had their “Heisman moment” yet and I suspect one will have theirs in early November. The award, much like the MVP in the NBA, is more about narrative than anything else. I can’t think of a better story than Joe Burrow’s long and windy journey to lead LSU back to prominence. If the senior from Athens, Ohio can march his troops into Tuscaloosa and knock off the Bear Bryant of the 21st century, then he more than has a case for the award for most outstanding player in college football.
We have four weeks until that fateful clash of Titans in T-Town. But until then, I can hear the hundreds of thousands of voices all the way from Baton Rouge, “GEAUX TIGA’S!”