LSU had a 10-win season and will finish in the top 10.
It won a New Year’s 6 bowl for the first time in its Fiesta Bowl debut.
It definitely showed that it’s making progress under coach Ed Orgeron, though the program is still a work in progress.
In other words, it was a good, though not great, season for the Tigers.
Here are 10 things that we’ll remember most about LSU’s 2018 season:
1. Nick Brossette’s 1,000 yards
No one was sure of what to expect from Brossette or the Tigers’ running game going into the season.
There was no proven running back as there was in past years and Brossette had hardly carried the ball in previous three seasons.
But early in the season opener against Miami, Brossette zipped through a gaping hole in the line and sprinted untouched 50 yards for a touchdown.
He was off and running. He would go on to have a 1,000-yard season, Clyde Edwards-Helaire would have a solid season complementing him and the LSU running game was just fine.
2. New leader of DBU
All the preseason talk about DBU centered on cornerback Greedy Williams and understandably so, given the impact he had as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
But early in the season it was obvious that sophomore safety Grant Delpit had become the best player in secondary and it became more and more obvious as the season wore on.
Delpit will be one of the leaders of the defense and the team next season.
3. Cole Tracy makes a difference
The Tigers’ struggles in the kicking game in 2017 and Tracy’s record-setting season in 2018 showed just how important a kicker can be.
LSU couldn’t rely much on either of its kickers in 2017, but then special teams coordinator Greg McMahon went out and found Tracy as a graduate transfer from Division II Assumption College.
Tracy went on to make 29 field goals, the most in a season in LSU history, kicking a game-winner as time expired at Auburn. He capped the season with a perfect 4-for-4 performance in the Fiesta Bowl victory over UCF.
4. The receivers’ ups and downs
The wide receivers as a group didn’t live up to lofty preseason expectations, but they had their best game as a group in the Fiesta Bowl victory against UCF.
Justin Jefferson had a very good season and had a big game, despite a couple of blunders, in the Fiesta Bowl. Ja’Marr Chase and others stepped up against UCF to provide the variety of weapons the Tigers had envisioned going into the season and are still hopeful of seeing next season.
5. Joe Burrow’s leadership
The transfer from Ohio State isn’t the most talented quarterback in the SEC and he had his periodic struggles during the season.
But he was an excellent decision maker, an accurate passer and evolved as a runner.
His finest moments came in the Fiesta Bowl in which he threw a pick-6 – and got blasted by a blocker during the return – and still went on to pass for a career-high 394 yards and 4 touchdowns in earning offensive player of the game honors.
6. The Georgia game
The Bulldogs were ranked No. 2 when they came to Tiger Stadium on Oct 13.
The Tigers had just lost to Florida and were in danger of seeing a promising season slip into mediocrity.
But LSU rose up and gave its most complete performance of Orgeron’s tenure.
The Tigers rolled to a 36-16 victory. They were focused, intense and extremely well prepared.
They looked like a serious Playoff contender. They showed what they’re capable of being and indicated they might be on the cusp of being able to perform like that on a more consistent basis.
7. Disappointment in the trenches
When LSU has been a national contender it has had elite offensive and defensive lines.
The expectation this season was that the defensive line could be the Tigers’ best in years and that the offensive line could be a strength.
The defensive line was good but not elite and the offensive line was inconsistent. Injuries and suspensions contributed to the sub-par performances, but that doesn’t change the fact that LSU needs to get better in both areas if it’s going to be a stronger Playoff contender.
8. Devin White’s example
The junior linebacker completed about as good a 2-year run as any Tigers defender has had. He was one of the leading tacklers in the country both seasons and was named the nation’s best linebacker in 2018.
Additionally, while teammates Greedy Williams and Ed Alexander decided before the Fiesta Bowl that they were turning pro and would be skipping the bowl, White took his time making a decision.
He was going to play in the bowl game no matter what and genuinely felt returning for his senior season was a worthwhile consideration.
Whether he returns in 2019 or leaves early for NFL riches, White has already left an indelible mark on the LSU program with his performance on the field and behavior off of it.
9. Alabama 29, LSU 0
More than anything else, LSU seasons are judged primarily by how the Tigers fare against Alabama.
This season they thought they had a real shot at beating Bama for the first time since 2011.
They were wrong. By a lot.
The Crimson Tide shut them out for the second consecutive time in Tiger Stadium.
Afterward, coach Ed Orgeron admitted the Tigers have a ways to go in recruiting before they can compete with Bama, especially in the trenches.
This season represented progress in a lot of ways.
But not in this really important area.
10. Marathon in College Station
How could anything be more memorable than a seven-overtime game that ends 72-70?
In a lot of ways the loss at Texas A&M in the regular-season finale was symbolic of the season and the status of the program.
The Gatorade bath for Orgeron was a premature celebration just as the thought that the program was back after being ranked as high as No. 5 was premature.
The battling throughout the four quarters and seven overtimes was consistent with the way the team played all season – not always pretty but nearly always with extreme effort.
And the outcome demonstrated that the Tigers are close to where they want to get, but they’re not there yet.