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 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., 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 Southeastern Conference 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 Southeastern Conference, No. 2 CFP) 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 ‘Bama.
No. 3 Ohio State 73, Maryland 14 — Art Columbus, Ohio: Justin Fields threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in the first half and Ohio State hardly missed suspended defensive star Chase Young.
No. 10 Florida 56, Vanderbilt 0 — At Gainesville, Fla.: Kyle Trask threw for a career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns — the best passing performance by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow’s college finale — and the 10th-ranked Gators overcame a lackluster start to thump Vanderbilt.
No. 11 Baylor 29, TCU 23 (3OT) — At Fort Worth, Texas: Denzel Mims made a leaping 4-yard touchdown catch in the third overtime for Baylor, capping another comeback victory that kept the Bears undefeated.
No. 15 SMU 59, East Carolina 51 — At Dallas: Shane Buechele threw five touchdown passes, Xavier Jones broke one of Eric Dickerson’s school records and SMU bounced back from its first loss. Jones, who ran for 157 yards, had three rushing touchdowns for the third time this season, giving him 18. His total touchdowns reached 20, one more than Dickerson had in 1981 — all on the ground.
No. 17 Cincinnati 48, Connecticut 3 — At Cincinnati: Desmond Ridder threw for a pair of touchdowns and Michael Warren II ran for two more scores during a dominant opening half, and Cincinnati remained the only unbeaten team in American Athletic play.
Texas 27, No. 20 Kansas State 24 — At Austin, Texas: Cameron Dicker kicked a 26-yard field goal as time expired to lift Texas past Kansas State as the Longhorns maintained their hopes of returning to the Big 12 championship game.
Virginia Tech 36, No. 23 Wake Forest 17 — At Blacksburg, Va.: Hendon Hooker led an offense that got into the act to help the Hokies beat the Demon Deacons.