Burrow, LSU rise to occasion in big road win
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — When LSU needed a big play, Joe Burrow delivered a touchdown pass. Late drive with the game on the line?
LSU’s new starting quarterback produced again. Burrow led the then-No. 12 Tigers to a 22-21 upset of then-No. 7 Auburn on Saturday in a game that made an early statement not only for LSU but for Burrow.
Both showed some mettle when they needed it most in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams, leading to a six-spot rise in the AP college football ranking on Sunday.
“Joe is cool as a cucumber,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “He’s not going to falter under pressure and he’s going to make the right decisions.”
Burrow did that much of the way in front of 86,787 mostly hostile fans. It wasn’t a huge game statistically for Burrow despite some big plays from receiver Justin Jefferson, but he showed again he was a solid complement to a strong defense and that he wouldn’t wilt in big games and big moments.
Burrow was 15 of 34 passing for 249 yards for LSU (3-0, 1-0), including a 71-yard fourth-quarter touchdown to Derrick Dillon just over the outstretched arms of linebacker Deshaun Davis. Dillon covered most of that distance after the pass.
Aided by two pass interference flags against Auburn (2-1, 0-1), Burrow led LSU into field position with a methodical 14-play drive that included a fourth-and-7 conversion on a pass to Stephen Sullivan.
The result was Cole Tracy’s 42-yard field goal as time expired. Burrow said he’s comfortable with having to rise to the occasion in tight games.
“That’s how I’ve been my whole life,” he said. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Burrow and No. 6 LSU already have beaten two top-10 opponents after defeating then-No. 8 Miami in the opener. This was the first time LSU has won on the final play of regulation since 2010 against Tennessee when Stevan Ridley scored on a 1-yard run.
Burrow, an Ohio State graduate transfer , beat out Myles Brennan to win the job. By the time that became official , LSU’s other two scholarship quarterbacks — Lowell Narcisse and Justin McMillan — had already transferred.
Burrow was relatively inexperienced when he arrived in Baton Rouge, appearing in 10 games over two years as a backup for the Buckeyes. He attempted just 39 passes and completed 29 during that span.
He is still completing less than half of his passes for LSU but hasn’t been intercepted while throwing three touchdown passes.
“To know I can come out here in a pressure situation like that and perform really gets my confidence up,” Burrow said.
Auburn, which fell two spots to No. 9 with the loss, managed to contain Nick Brossette and the running game, putting added pressure on him to perform. Burrow led LSU to three third-down conversions on the opening drive and set up the touchdown with a run to the 1.
“He showed that he was a competitor,” Orgeron said. “Things weren’t always good, but he competed his butt off. He didn’t play great but he played well. He’s 3-0 as our starting quarterback, and that’s pretty good.”