LSU earns top ranking with another top 10 triumph

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Thaddeus Moss, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
(Photo: Terrill Weil)

LSU is the number one team in college football.

Tiger fans have believed that for some time, but it was made official Sunday in the latest Associated Press Top 25.

The 23-20 win over previously ninth-ranked Auburn wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing game of the year for the Tigers, but it was the type of win that can define a special season. It was a win where LSU had to give something more than it had in any other game so far.

“I think a lesser team would not have won that game,” said Ed Orgeron. “(Auburn) came to play. Adversity hit us. We weren’t playing very well in the first half. They got up ahead, but our guys kept on fighting. You should have seen this locker room. They were calm in this locker room. There was confidence and we felt like we were going to win the game. Joe (Burrow) felt he was going to win the game, and we did.”

The biggest concern heading into their matchup with Auburn was whether or not LSU could win the battle up front. Auburn’s defensive line may be the best in the nation, and LSU has dealt with injury and inconsistency on its offensive line all season.

“They came out in a defense that we haven’t seen from them or anyone else this season,” added Burrow. “It took us a while to get used to what they were doing and figure out how to attack it in the second half. We got that run game going.”

Auburn made things uncomfortable for Heisman front-runner Joe Burrow, sacking him three times, and pressuring him several more, but Burrow never got flustered.

“I think that if a quarterback shows toughness, it can really get the team going,” he said. “That’s what I try to do every day in the weight room and on the field. If you lay down on the field and don’t hop back up, it shows the team that you’re not really into it.”

Burrow completed 32 of 42 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown, his sixth game this season with at least 300 yards through the air.

His 30 passing touchdowns are the most in the SEC through eight games since Tim Couch was flinging it for Kentucky in the late 90s.

“Jeaux Heisman” also made plays with his feet, avoiding the pass rush to pick up first downs, and his seven yard touchdown run proved to be the winning score.

“I thought it was a great call,” said Burrow. “We got in empty in the red zone, and we knew what they were going to give us. They gave us a 4-0 box and ended up playing cover two. It ended up being wide open for me; the O-line did a great job opening it up for me by letting those pass-rushers run by.”

Clyde Edwards-Helaire provided plenty of support, rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown and continuing his stretch of very strong play. He’s topped the century mark in three of the last five games.

“He made some key plays and key first downs,” added Orgeron. “It was kind of tough sledding. Passing game was tough sledding. I think it was because of the pressure, but we were able to run the football, and that made a difference.”

LSU needed every difference maker that it could find. Even with the offense gaining more 500 yards for the sixth time in eight games, the Tigers repeatedly shot themselves in the foot, with 12 penalties and two turnovers that were the result of mental mistakes.

Derek Stingley Jr. fumbled a punt return and Burrow forced a throw to Ja’Marr Chase that was picked off.

Fortunately for the Tigers, Dave Aranda’s highly-scrutinized defense came through when it needed to. Auburn had a number of drives into LSU territory that came up empty. Stingley had a big interception inside the five yard line to take away another scoring opportunity.

Auburn finished with 287 total yards, its second-lowest output of the season.

“We had too many penalties, especially on special teams,” Orgeron added. “We did not play well on special teams and the turnovers were very costly. When they went up 13-10, our defense forced six punts. What an outstanding job by our defense, Coach Aranda and the whole staff so we have to five them some credit. Great team win. We’re 8-0 but have a lot of things to work on going into the open date.”

That they do. Awaiting LSU in two weeks is a trip to Tuscaloosa to face the Alabama Crimson Tide and their eight-game winning streak over the Purple and Gold.

In a season that has captured the imagination, that reality is what Orgeron, Burrow, and the rest of the Tigers will now prepare to face and work to overcome.

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David Grubb

David Grubb

Sports 1280am host/CCS reporter

David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…

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