Don’t look now, but there may be another serious contender for the SEC title sitting down there in Baton Rouge, La.
No. 6 LSU traveled to No. 9 Texas on Saturday and not only did it win, it won in the way no LSU program has won in recent memory. The Tigers won by throwing the ball.
They had to. The Longhorns stormed back from a 20-7 first half deficit by scoring 31 points after halftime behind quarterback Sam Ehlinger. The junior threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough, because LSU’s Joe Burrow was even better.
Every time Texas scored, Burrow answered. In the second half, he was 15 of 18 for 254 yards and two touchdowns. For the night, Burrow finished 31 of 39 for 471 yards and four touchdowns. He completed passes to seven different receivers, three of whom had more than 100 yards receiving for the game.
It was the kind of breakout game LSU fans have expected from Burrow since he arrived on campus last season after transferring from Ohio State.
Last year, Burrow was solid. He threw for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns, five interceptions and completed 58 percent of his passes, but was still considered more like a game manager. Through two games this season, he is completing 82 percent of his passes (54 for 66), and he has already thrown for 749 yards, nine touchdowns, one interception. Now, it looks like LSU can win games because of Burrow, not just because he didn’t make mistakes.
Saturday against Texas, he was decisive and aggressive. It is obvious in his second year under offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach Steve Ensminger that both have reached a comfort level which could cause problems for SEC opponents once the Tigers begin conference play. Three of LSU’s toughest games left on its schedule — Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M are at home. The lone challenge on the road at this point looks like a trip to Tuscaloosa in November to play Alabama, which could determine which could determine the representative from the West in the SEC Championship.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the big win likely won’t pay off with a jump in the top 25.
All the teams above them coming into the week won and won handily, but a win against Texas will help their argument in the long run, provided LSU is at worst a one-loss team come playoff time.
Speaking of the top 25, this is my second year as an AP voter, and as I present my ballot, I always like to offer the following disclaimer. I don’t care if Georgia or Georgia Tech win. The same goes for Alabama, Auburn and Clemson. I was born in Ohio, but that does not make me an Ohio State fan. My money went to UAB, which is now 2-0 after a 31-20 victory over Akron. There is plenty of room on the Blazers’ bandwagon. When I start ranking them in the top 10, you can call me a homer.
1. Clemson — I don’t know if anyone has noticed yet, but this Trevor Lawrence kid they have at quarterback is pretty good.
2. Alabama — I don’t know if anyone has noticed yet, but this Tua Tagovailoa kid they have at quarterback is pretty good.
3. Georgia — How great was it to see former Walton High School standout Dominick Blaylock catch the first touchdown pass of his career? The freshman caught three passes for 48 yards and the 25-yard score, which will likely be the first of many more to come.
4. Ohio State — Former Harrison standout Justin Fields went 20 of 25 for 225 yards and two touchdowns against Cincinnati. He also ran for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
In two games with the Buckeyes he has thrown for 458 yards, ran for 103 and is responsible for nine touchdowns.
5. Oklahoma — Former Sprayberry star Trey Sermon ran nine times for 56 yards and a touchdown in limited action during the Sooners’ rout of South Dakota.
9. Florida — Another former Sprayberry standout, Jabari Zuniga, had 1½ sacks in limited action against UT Martin.
10. Michigan — Could of, should have been beaten at home by Army. Not exactly the message the Wolverines want to send to the rest of the Big Ten.
25. North Carolina — Is there a better story brewing than that of Mack Brown? In his return to being the Tar Heels’ head coach the team is 2-0 and have beaten South Carolina and Miami. With Wake Forest and Appalachian State on the schedule the next four weeks, it is possible North Carolina is ranked and undefeated when it takes on top-ranked Clemson on Sept. 28.
4. Ohio State
7. Notre Dame
13. Penn State
14. Texas A&M
16. Michigan State
18. Washington State
21. Boise State
25. North Carolina