ATLANTA — Don’t be too hard on Oklahoma. The way LSU played Saturday night in the Peach Bowl, the Sooners would have needed to send 15 men onto the field to have a chance. And even then, Joe Burrow would have found at least three of his receivers wide open.
You wouldn’t think a Heisman-winning quarterback could still stun anyone, but Burrow did exactly that against Oklahoma. Now, the question becomes: can he do the same thing to Clemson?
It’s impossible to get the full magnitude of Burrow’s Peach Bowl brilliance just by looking at the stats (29/39, 493 yards, 7 TD/0 INT) or the final score (63-28). That would be like looking at the ground beneath your feet and trying to see the curvature of the earth. No, like an eclipse, we’ve got to look at this from multiple angles, none of them straight on:
Burrow set College Football Playoff records for passing touchdowns (7) and passing yards in a half (403). Those seven first-half touchdowns also tied the SEC single-game record and the all-time bowl record.
Burrow’s three-yard touchdown dive early in the third quarter set the all-time bowl record for combined passing/rushing touchdowns.
Burrow threw more touchdowns in the first half than Old Dominion (5), Northwestern (6) and Army (6) threw all season.
Between this game and the SEC Championship, Burrow has thrown more touchdowns in two games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (11) than the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan has in eight (8).
Burrow’s 55 touchdown passes this season are the second most in college football history, just three behind the mark Hawaii’s Colt Brennan set in 2006.
“When I saw [the seven-touchdown mark] on the Jumbotron, I was surprised. That was the first time I’ve ever been surprised at something Joe did this season,” said center Lloyd Cushenberry III. “Seven touchdowns in a half? That’s Madden stuff.”
“That’s just Joe being Joe,” said wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., who caught two touchdowns from Burrow. “When he throws the ball and the ball releases out of his hand, you know it’s going to be right on target. That’s why he won the Heisman.”
The next time Burrow gets rattled will be the first time, and after his historic game, he looked as casually satisfied as if he’d just gotten the correct kind of sandwich he’d ordered.
“We go into every game thinking nobody can stop us,” Burrow said. “That's the way we think. We think we need to score every time we touch the ball. If we don't, then we're still kind of chasing that perfect game.”
They’ll have a hell of a tall order trying to craft that perfect game against Clemson. Through 13 games, the Tigers had allowed FBS bests of 244.7 yards per game and 16 touchdowns. Clemson had only allowed 75 passing first downs coming into Saturday, also a national best, and ranked fourth in the country with 17 interceptions.
But LSU hasn’t quivered all year, and they’re not about to now. The LSU attack will get dissected from every angle, but beaten? We’ll see.
“I’ve been a part of some good football teams,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said, “but I’ve never been part of an offense like this.”
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