After finishing the last eight seasons with a tally in the loss column against bitter-rival Alabama Crimson Tide, the high-octane LSU Tigers had a major breakthrough Saturday afternoon when the team traveled to an unwelcoming Tuscaloosa, Alabama and defeated the Tide 46-41 on their own turf, in the game played at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
By getting out front early and dominating the first half, LSU managed to hold off a late rally by ‘Bama in the thriller. The broadcast was the highest-rated regular-season college football game on any network in the last eight years and reached an estimated peak of 20.610 million viewers according to CBS Sports. The game was the most-watched face-off between the two universities since 2011’s “Game of the Century” that saw the Tigers come away victorious.
If the loss hadn’t quite sunk in for Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban and company, that surely changed Tuesday evening when the College Football Playoff committee released their latest rankings. Showcasing the top programs in America, the undefeated Tigers garnered the top spot in the poll. Meanwhile, Alabama fell to the fifth spot with their home-field loss. With SEC foe Georgia coming in ranked number four, the Crimson Tide are now on the outside-looking-in and in danger of missing their first playoff since its inception during the 2014-2015 season.
Saban spoke with reporters Monday and expressed that he was focused on this week’s upcoming game. The Tide visit Mississippi State, and he reminded media that there has been a few, one-loss ‘Bama teams that eventually made the final dance by saying, “We have kind of a legacy around here that we’ve only had one team in the last 12 years that’s lost more than one game in the regular season,” Saban said according to ESPN. “I’d like for this team to be able to continue that, and we certainly want to focus on all the things that we need to do to try to be able to get that done”.
LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron is a charismatic, strong-willed leader built in a similar fashion to the always focused, forward-thinking Saban. It’s easy to compare the two, however, there is one glaring contrast that seems to always stand out and set each leader apart. That trait is Orgeron’s natural ability to recruit; one that is forever-present when speaking with members of the media, and not reserved for just potential recruits.
Seasoned and well-traveled, the proud Orgeron has spent time all over the country as a staff-member at top programs during their “heydays” like Miami and USC. Following the victory, he met up with CBS sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl. Displaying an abundant release of emotion, the coach was brought to tears while saying, “You know what, it was a great game to be at, a great rivalry. I am so happy for the state of Louisiana and all the LSU fans and our football team and our coaching staff – they worked very hard for this victory.”
The display of heightened emotions didn’t stop there either. After leaving the field, Orgeron spoke with members of his team and made a controversial statement during the fiery speech. “We’re going to beat their a** in recruiting. We’re going to beat their a** every time they see us. You understand that? Roll Tide what? F*** you.”
Video footage of the comments were recorded and posted to social media by an unnamed LSU player. Soon after, the speech went viral and made waves with members of the national media. Orgeron displayed remorse for the rant saying, “I wish that never would have happened,” Orgeron said at his news conference Monday when asked about players streaming and recording things from the locker room, according to USA Today. “It shouldn’t have happened. I addressed it with the player who did it. He apologized. He felt bad about it.”
Both Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow are candidates to be finalists for the Heisman Trophy ceremony coming up in December. Not only that, but both are being considered as potential first-round picks in the upcoming National Football League draft this spring. At the moment, it seems all the momentum is being carried by the Tigers’ quarterback who is pulling ahead of Tua in most mock drafts. If the season were to end today, analysts indicate he would likely be selected first overall by the dreadful Cincinnati Bengals.
With Tagovailoa recovering from ankle surgery a few weeks ago, it was the immaculate Burrow who managed to steal the show Saturday. During the victory, he completed 31 of 39 passes for 393 yards, to go along with his three touchdown passes. His athleticism and decision-making were on full display during the game, as he progressed well through his reads and showed his scrambling ability when plays broke down.
The legend of Burrow continues to grow. After being overlooked at Ohio State, he transferred to LSU prior to the 2018 season. During his transfer visit, the Ohio native asked if he could join the Tigers team for wind sprints during an offseason practice session. Since then, his meteoric rise has drawn comparisons to New England Patriots’ Quarterback legend Tom Brady.
CBS College Football Analyst Rick Neuheisel appeared on the Dan Patrick Show and said, “That guy is Tom Brady. He is going to be a remarkable NFL player.” He also added, “He’s got great accuracy, and there were maybe two or three throws in the entire game that he wants back.”
Following the Tigers’ arrival to a Louisiana airport, fans were waiting outside of the fences to greet the victorious Tigers. Burrow ran off the plane and along that same fence line touching hands with fans reaching through the links in the fence.
Speaking at his weekly press conference Monday, The Advocate quoted the star quarterback saying, “I didn’t really realize how much this meant to Louisiana. It was pretty special. I was very surprised to see it, and I just wanted to do anything I could to embrace those people that came out.”