AUSTIN, Texas — For perhaps the first time in any LSU fan's recent memory, the Tigers defense had to keep up with its offense.
It was a shootout in Austin Saturday night, as the Tigers and the Longhorns battled it out, only for the Tigers to come out victorious 45-38.
"What a game," said LSU coach Ed Orgeron in the postgame press conference. "What a game. Great night for college football. Give Texas credit; they fought to the very end."
It was a gritty win, but the final nail in the coffin came when senior quarterback Joe Burrow hit junior receiver Justin Jefferson for a 61-yard touchdown pass on third-and-17 late in the fourth quarter. Orgeron said it was a "phenomonal call" by offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Joe Brady.
LSU put up 573 yards of total offense to Texas' 530 total yards.
The game started slow but picked up into the second half.
Texas got 19 yards on its first play of the game, but the Tigers went on to force the Longhorns to punt three plays later.
The LSU offense seemed to pick up where it left off against Georgia Southern. The drive was highlighted by a 38-yard completion from quarterback Joe Burrow to sophomore receiver Terrace Marshall.
LSU's drive stalled in the red zone, allowing for freshman kicker Cade York to hit a 38-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 3-0 early in the game. York was 3-for-3 against Texas, to move to 6-for-6 on the season.
Texas was rolling on its second drive of the game, especially after LSU's No. 1 cornerback Kristian Fulton went down with an ankle injury. Ehlinger attacked freshman corner Cordale Flott to easily get inside the 10-yard line before the LSU defense woke up. Texas attemped to scored on fourth-and-goal but couldn't convert and forced a turnover on downs.
Burrow threw his first interception of the season while back up against the Tigers' endzone, but once against the defense came in clutch, forcing another goal-line stand and a turnover on downs.
"We knew the quarterback was going to run the football," Orgeron said. "There was no question about that. And when the ball got within the six-inch line, we submarined and that helped and we knocked them back. Then they got into a formation that we knew the ball was going to be a sweep, so it was great recognition, great coaching by our coaching staff and great play by our players."
Texas finally got on the board in its first drive of the second quarter. It seemed like LSU freshman cornerback Derek Stingley would have his first career interception, but it was ruled an incompletion on further review.
Immediately after, Ehlinger hit receiver Brennan Eagles for a 55-yard touchdown to give Texas the lead.
LSU wasted no time retaking it. Burrow lead the Tigers on the next drive, going 75 yards in eight plays. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire broke for a 25-yard run, while junior receiver Justin Jefferson connected with Burrow three times for 35 yards and a six-yard touchdown to give LSU a 10-7 lead.
LSU was forced to kick a field goal on the following offensive drive, but returned to its usual efficiency the next drive. The Tigers went 58 yards in three plays to shave just 25 seconds off the clock during the two-minutes drill.
Burrow completed passes of 19 yards to Chase and 18 yards to Jefferson before hitting Jefferson against for a 21-yard touchdown to end the half with LSU up 20-7.
Texas never backed down, scoring two touchdowns on its only two drives of the third quarter and cutting LSU's lead down to 23-21.
After settling for another field goal in its first drive, the two teams continued to trade off touchdowns. Burrow facilitated another scoring drive, capping it off with a 26-yard touchdown to Marshall early in the third quarter, but Texas immediately bounced back for a 44-yard touchdown pass of its own. LSU was barely in the lead at 30-28 midway through the fourth quarter.
LSU again added to its lead with a 12-yard touchdown run by Edwards-Helaire.
"They had a crowd, man," Burrow said. "It was nice. We're going to need to win on the road. This was good for our team. Obviously I can tell you it's good because we won the game, but there was some adversity that hit, that crowd got loud, that team kept on battling, and we had to battle.
"We're going to look at the tape, see who was battling in key situations. We had to make plays, we made plays on offense but we didn't make many plays on defense tonight.