TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – 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 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.
And the challenges were plentiful.
That came as no surprise to Burrow.
“I knew they were going to come back,” he 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, finally triumphant over their SEC West nemesis.
Burrow completed 31 of 39 passes, ran for 64 yards and was carried most of the way off the field by two teammates.
The ride isn’t over for LSU. Burrow 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.”
No. 13 Minnesota 31, No. 5 Penn State 26
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jordan Howden picked off Sean Clifford’s pass in the end zone with 1:01 left, the third interception thrown by Penn State’s quarterback, and the Gophers beat the Nittany Lions for their first victory over a top-five team in 20 years.
Tanner Morgan passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns to direct a dismantling of Penn State’s staunch defense. Minnesota (9-0, 6-0, No. 17 CFP) not only remained undefeated, but stayed on track for its first trip to the Big Ten championship game.
The first sellout crowd for the Gophers at home in four years swarmed the field after the clock ran out, reveling in the biggest step forward yet under coach P.J. Fleck in his third season. The Gophers scrambled the College Football Playoff picture, too, after Penn State (8-1, 5-1, No. 4 CFP) emerged with a top-four spot in the first edition of the rankings.
Rashod Bateman got the Gophers going with a 66-yard score on their first possession and finished with seven catches for 203 yards, the second-most in program history. Tyler Johnson had seven receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown, too, as Minnesota made enough early gains to hold up during the late rally.
No. 9 Oklahoma 42, Iowa State 41
In Norman, Oklahoma, Parnell Motley intercepted Brock Purdy’s two-point conversion pass with 24 seconds left and the Sooners held off Iowa State.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell went for the victory on the two-point try after Charlie Kolar caught a 13-yard touchdown pass to pull the Cyclones — down 42-21 in the second half — within one.
Jalen Hurts passed for 273 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 68 yards and two more scores for the Sooners (8-1, 5-1 Big 12, No. 9 CFP).
No. 3 Ohio State 73, Maryland 14
In 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.
A team that gave the Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten, CFP No. 1) headaches last season was no trouble this time, even without the fierce pass rushing of Young. The preseason All-American was suspended Friday while Ohio State investigates a possible NCAA violation involving a loan.
No. 4 Clemson 55, North Carolina State 10
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Trevor Lawrence threw for two scores and ran for another in a dominating first quarter and Clemson routed North Carolina State to wrap a trip to Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
The reigning national champion Tigers learned this week that they were on the outside looking in for the first rankings for the four-team College Football Playoff. Yet coach Dabo Swinney had said the Tigers (10-0, 7-0, No. 5 CFP) were in a “good spot” and needed to focus instead on finishing strong.
No. 6 Georgia 27, Missouri 0
In Athens, Georgia, Jake Fromm threw two touchdown passes to George Pickens and Georgia posted its third shutout, dominating a Missouri offense missing two of its biggest playmakers.
Georgia (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 6 College Football Playoff) moved closer to its third straight berth in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs can clinch the SEC East by beating No. 12 Auburn next week.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5