LSU football: Seeding? Next opponent? No matter, bring it
LSU played like a team determined to prove it deserves to be No. 1 in the College Football Playoff.
And it played like one that couldn’t care less.
The No. 2 Tigers dropped the mic in a 37-10 rout of Georgia, which was willing but overmatched, in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The Tigers went about their business as though it didn’t matter who the opponent was and as though it didn’t matter that Ohio State was ranked ahead of them.
This was about LSU being LSU. It was about putting an exclamation point on a dominant season.
It was about Joe Burrow adding another remarkable performance to a remarkable season season that will undoubtedly produce a landslide Heisman Trophy victory next weekend.
Burrow did that by throwing 4 more touchdown passes, giving his 48 this season and breaking a tie with Missouri’s Drew Lock (44 in 2017) for the most in SEC history.
Along the way Burrow ad-libbed his way to 349 passing yards, 41 rushing yards and even 16 receiving yards against a defense that had not allowed more than 20 points in any of its previous 12 games this season.
This performance was about an emerging defense showing continued growth as a more-than-adequate complement to an historic offense for the upcoming championship push.
Freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. made two interceptions as the much-maligned LSU defense built on the success of its stifling performance against Texas A&M a week earlier.
The Tigers have heard questions about the defense and mixed reviews about it passing/failing the College Football Playoff committee’s “eye test” ever since the committee dropped it from No. 1 to No. 2 last month.
“This is not our final destination,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
No it’s not, though Atlanta might again be the venue when the Tigers play their next game in the CFP semifinals Dec. 28.
Will they be No. 1 or No. 2? Will they play Oklahoma or Clemson?
We’ll find out Sunday, though it’s unlikely the details will much of a difference to Orgeron or his team.
“Wherever they tell us to play and whoever they tell us to play,” Orgeron said, “we’ll be ready.”
The Tigers were plenty ready Saturday just as they were in their previous 12 victories.
They scored 37 points on a defense that hadn’t allowed more than 20 in any previous game – and that came in a double-overtime game.
They allowed just 10 points, the fewest scored this season by the SEC East champions. They held Jake Fromm to 20 completions in 42 attempts for 225 yards.
It was LS’s fifth victory against a team that was ranked in the top 10 when they played them.
When it was over, Orgeron handed a game ball to Burrow, who should have about 13 of those this season. Burrow handed the ball back to his coach.
“I love that guy,” Burrow said. “If you don’t want to fight for him, something’s wrong with you.”
Terrace Marshall Jr. caught two of Burrow’s touchdowns and Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson (115 receiving yards) had one TD catch each.
Georgia is headed to the New Year’s Day 6 — likely the Sugar Bowl — and its loss created an opportunity for Big 12 champion Oklahoma to grab the fourth and final spot in the CFP.
The Sooners should be grateful. Their reward might be a match-up against the Tigers in the semifinals.
But LSU might get defending national champion Clemson instead.
“This is a dream come true,” Burrow said. “This doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody (on this team). You can’t do any better than 13-0, but we’re not done yet.”
At some point the Tigers might even draw Burrow’s old team – those Buckeyes.
“We have two more games to play,” Orgeron said, “and we’ll get back to work tomorrow.”
By then they’ll know their seeding and their opponent.
Neither will matter much to LSU.