The disappointment of losing in seven overtimes last year and being dropped to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings hit a fever pitch for LSU on Saturday.
The Tigers (12-0, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) came out and dominated Texas A&M (7-5, 4-4 SEC) 50-7 in what was senior quarterback Joe Burrow’s final game in Tiger Stadium.
Burrow did not disappoint, adding to his Heisman resume with 352 yards and three touchdowns on 23-for-32 passing. Burrow surpassed former Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch for the most passing yards in SEC history.
Burrow finished the regular season with 4,366 passing yards and 44 touchdowns on 314-of-401 (78.3 %) passing. He set not only LSU records in the three categories, but SEC records as well.
Burrow and the Tigers raced out to a 31-0 lead in the first half in what was a statement win for the Tigers. Following LSU’s 46-41 win over Alabama on Nov. 9, the Tigers moved up to No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings. However, despite LSU’s impressive resume, the committee moved LSU down to No. 2 in the latest rankings, claiming Ohio State had been the more complete team throughout the season.
LSU played with a chip on its shoulder on both sides of the ball, something the Tigers had struggled to do throughout the season. The offense accumulated 553 yards and the defense limited the Aggies to 169 yards of offense.
It’s the lowest total LSU has held a team to since the Tigers defeated Utah State 42-6 and limited its offense to 159 yards of total offense on Oct. 5.
“Keeping the foot on the gas,” said senior defensive end Breiden Fehoko. “It’s so huge with our offense, we know they’re going to score points. It’s easy to get comfortable, I’m not going to lie. We know our offense can come out and score at will when they want to, and as a defense we have a tendancy to sit back and rely on that.
“But if you want to compete with the big dogs in this type of football, and this type of season, you have to play complete football – offense, defense and special teams.”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said the key to LSU’s defensive performance was rushing the quarterback. Sophomore outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson led LSU with six tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks.
LSU’s defense finished with six sacks and five quarterback hurries.
“I think the defense sent a message to the country because they have been criticized for the last half of the season and that’s what they were talking about all week,” Burrow said. “They wanted to make a statement. I know they have worked so hard for it this week and they continue to do it.”
While the defense shined, the biggest light was placed on Burrow. He’s established LSU’s offense in the 21st century and is the favorite to be LSU’s first Heisman winner since 1959.
He walked out the tunnel on senior night with “Burreaux” on the back of his jersey as a tribute to the state and University, he said.
After the final whistle blew, Burrow ran over to the student section. They chanted his name, lobbied for him to win the Heisman and they even shouted out a few “I love you’s.”
“Obviously, I don’t go to class – I take online classes – so I don’t get to see any of those people, and I just kind of wanted to see them for the first time. Just thank for coming to the games and for making this the best atmosphere in the country.”