If there’s a phrase that captures the most unexpected storyline of the 2019 college football season, it would be delivered in a Cajun growl. At nearly every live microphone he faced this season, LSU coach Ed Orgeron has delivered a simple message about his surging program: “We comin’!”
On Sunday, the Tigers captured the latest milestone in a season in which they’ve been collecting them. A season of promise has arrived to the cusp of its destination, as LSU earned the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff and will enter the tournament as the prohibitive favorite.
The Tigers are 13-0 and managed to turn both the SEC title game and quarterback Joe Burrow’s upcoming Heisman Trophy campaign into anti-climactic runaways. In the wake of its 37-10 woodshed beating of No. 4 Georgia on Saturday, No. 1 LSU earned the top spot in the College Football Playoff.
Here are three reasons why LSU will win the College Football Playoff.
1) Defenses have had an entire season to decode the dynamic passing attack that co-offensive coordinator Joe Brady brought to LSU from the New Orleans Saints. They’ve all failed famously, as Georgia’s vaunted defense yielded 349 passing yards and four touchdowns to Burrow.
Burrow completed one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of the sport and his 78.3 percent completion percentage is the highest ever, ahead of former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy’s 76.7 percent mark back in 2008.
The most remarkable part may be the precipitous jump that Burrow has taken from last season, when he completed a pedestrian 57.8 percent of his passes. Burrow’s historic season will have him hoisting the Heisman on Saturday night, and you can’t help but think it won’t be the last hardware he gets his hands on.
2) What makes the LSU offense so potent? It’s the combination of schematic innovation and elite talent, as LSU’s wide receivers are among the country’s best. Essentially, what Ja’Marr Chase (18 TDs), Justin Jefferson (14 TDs) and Terrace Marshall (10 TDs) are doing is what we should have seen talents like Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry do at LSU. But antiquated schemes and pedestrian quarterbacks curtailed the production of those elite talents.
What makes them so difficult to defend against? Allow an opposing coach to explain: “They have built-in answers to however you’re going to try and match them. And their skill allows them to win. The quarterback finds it all, that’s why no one is stopping them. No matter what you do, there’s a one-on-one that the quarterback can find and they’re winning. You have to cover them to win the game. No one else is playing like that right now.”
3) Don’t underestimate the power of LSU’s path to the title game, either. They’ve earned the easier route, having won at Alabama and Texas, beating Florida and Auburn at home and trouncing No. 4 Georgia in the SEC title game.
That allowed LSU to skip a semifinal date with Clemson. The Tigers get to face a defensively challenged No. 4 Oklahoma team that’s No. 50 in scoring defense, as opposed to the No. 1 defense of Clemson.
The easier path also includes two quasi-home games. LSU fans in the SEC breadbasket will flock to Atlanta for the semifinal game in the Peach Bowl. The geography and momentum favors LSU fans, as Oklahoma fans may have fatigue from the Sooners losing in the CFP two straight years.
A victory would give LSU a virtual home game in New Orleans for the title game, an environment that proved a distinct advantage back in 2008 for LSU’s national last title. That was a 38-24 LSU victory over Ohio State in the BCS championship game to cap the 2007 season.
Is a repeat performance in the future? Not hard to see it comin’.
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