TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Joe Burrrow sprinted toward the LSU fans to celebrate a monumental victory, and moments later was hoisted on the shoulders of two beefy teammates.
They carried him only partway across the field. The ride isn’t finished for Burrow and No. 1 LSU but the quarterback’s masterful performance Saturday in a 46-41 victory over nemesis and second-ranked Alabama marked a huge step toward the Tigers’ championship goals.
Burrow passed for 393 yards and three touchdowns, answered challenge after challenge and helped end the eight-year string of futility that started with the national title game in January 2012. Now, their sights are set on another shot at national and SEC championships.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said that for the first time he told his players pre-Alabama, “You’re the better team.” “We’ve finally got the tools that we need to beat those guys,” Orgeron said. “To have a championship team, you’ve got to have a championship quarterback.”
The Tigers (9-0, 5-0 SEC, No. 2 College Football Playoff) are no longer second fiddle in the SEC West, or maybe in the playoff rankings. And Burrow stamped himself as the Heisman Trophy front-runner with a gutty performance when he answered every challenge from Alabama.
“I knew they were going to come back,” Burrow said. “That’s Alabama on the other side, dynasty. I was really happy with the way we responded.”
The Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1, No. 3 CFP) rallied from a 33-13 halftime deficit to three times to pull within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. It kept going from game seemingly over to game on.
The showdown lived up to its billing as a duel between two high-powered offenses and star quarterbacks with President Donald Trump attending. Tua Tagovailoa launched an 85-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith with 1:21 left after the Tigers’ own scoring march. Justin Jefferson recovered the onside kick and LSU ran out the clock.
Burrow, who completed 31 of 39 passes. ran for 64 yards and was carried most of the way, said titles are what he was after when he transferred to LSU from Ohio State.
“We’re not done yet,” the two-year starter said. “It’s Game 9. We’ve got three more regular-season ones and the SEC championship. This was never our goal. We’ve got bigger goals than this.”
Tagovailoa, 20 days removed from ankle surgery, was 21-of-40 for 418 yards and four touchdowns with an interception and a fumble. He looked shaky early and appeared to be limping after the game, but he kept Alabama in it.
“He said he could play in the game, he wanted to play in the game and he thought he could go out and do a good job,” coach Nick Saban said. “I think he was a warrior in terms of what he did.”