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Forde-Yard Dash: It's LSU, Joe Burrow (and Ed Orgeron) and Everybody Else


Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football, where the wildfire of burnt buyout money has spread from Tallahassee to Fayetteville: 

MORE DASH: Candidates for Fourth CFP Spot | Trap Games | Preseason Duds



When No. 1 plays No. 2, there is a lot at stake — much to win and much to lose. The Dash cataloged some of what Alabama lost Saturday night in Tuscaloosa; now it’s time to look at some of what LSU won in a historic shootout at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The SEC West (1). Barring a pair of stunning upsets, the race is over. LSU is a game up on Alabama and owns the tiebreaker between the two, which means the Tigers would have to lose two of three against Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas A&M (combined record: 12-17). Even with a predictable letdown Saturday at Ole Miss, the Tigers aren’t losing. The next week they could hang 70 on an Arkansas team that has given up. Then there is the regular-season finale against Texas A&M — and LSU owes the Aggies one after their controversial, acrimonious, 74-72 loss last year. It will be the Tigers’ first SEC West title since 2011.

The Heisman Trophy (2). Joe Burrow ran away with the thing against the Crimson Tide. He was brilliant yet again, throwing for 393 yards and three touchdowns and running for another 64 yards. Meanwhile, his closest competitors were all having their issues: Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had two crippling turnovers; Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts threw an interception against Iowa State that could have been game-losing and season-wrecking for the Sooners, if a receiver held onto a two-point pass that hit him in the stomach; Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is currently indisposed due to an NCAA eligibility issue. It would take something unforeseen for Burrow to be caught now. LSU has only had one Heisman winner, Billy Cannon, in 1959, and the only Tigers quarterback who has come close to winning it is Bert Jones in 1972.

SEC Coach of the Year (3). And probably national Coach of the Year as well, although P.J. Fleck and Matt Rhule may have something to say about that. The award goes to Ed Orgeron, a tepidly received hire who at one time was lampooned as a meathead who was in over his head at a blueblood school. Nobody thought Coach O could match wits with Nick Saban. Now he’s the guy who took down Saban in his backyard, and the guy who oversaw the modernization of the most underachieving offensive program in America. He’s no longer Coach Oh No. He’s Coach Nine and Oh.

The Broyles Award (4). It’s given to the top assistant coach in the country, and no assistant has made a more dramatic impact on the 2019 season that LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady. The creative catalyst to the Tigers’ offensive makeover, the 30-year-old Brady will be the most in-demand assistant in the country on both the college and NFL levels this offseason. LSU is moving to try to lock him up, but the former Saints staffer could be destined for a return to the pros in a much more prominent position.

New respect from Alabama (5). The Crimson Tide has dominated the conference and the division like nobody in recent SEC history. Most notably, the Tide has dominated an LSU program that from 2000-10 was better than ‘Bama — and it drove Tigers fans insane. The losing streak to ‘Bama was eight before Saturday. Now the winning streak is one, and the Bayou Bengals may have pushed their nemesis out of the playoff in the process. If you don’t think reversing that situation meant everything to Orgeron and the Tigers, then you missed all the postgame euphoria and smack talk.

A College Football Playoff margin for error (6). This could be the most tangible benefit of all — LSU may have given itself the latitude to absorb a loss to Georgia in the SEC championship game and still make the College Football Playoff. With wins over Alabama and Texas on the road, plus Florida and Auburn at home, a defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs Dec. 7 in Atlanta could still leave LSU with the best one-loss resume in the land.


If today were Selection Sunday, this is how The Dash would arrange the bracket:

Top seed LSU (7) vs. fourth seed Minnesota (8) in the Peach Bowl.

The Tigers (9-0) have by far the best resume in the nation. See above for further details. Next for LSU: at Mississippi.

The Gophers (9-0) make the playoff quartet for the first time, powered by their storm-the-field upset of previously unbeaten Penn State. This is the hottest debate in the sport right now, and The Dash will dive into it at greater length in the Second Quarter. As many as eight or nine teams could stake a claim to this spot at the moment, and it figures to be a flashpoint of disagreement from now until early December. Next for Minnesota: at Iowa Saturday, a trap game supreme.

Second seed Ohio State (9) vs. third seed Clemson (10) in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Buckeyes (9-0) didn’t have Young available against Maryland and didn’t miss him, delivering a 73-14 beating to the tailspinning Terrapins. Ohio State remains the nation’s most dominant and complete team, but it doesn’t have the signature wins that LSU has piled up. They will have an opportunity to beef up the resume in the closing weeks, finishing with Penn State, Michigan and a likely Big Ten championship game appearance. Next for Ohio State: at Rugers, a beatdown that will not be suitable for younger viewers.

The Tigers (10-0) weren’t overjoyed with being fifth in the first College Football Playoff rankings last week, and they took out a little aggression from that on North Carolina State in a 55-10 pummeling. It was 28-0 after one quarter and 42-0 at halftime, as Clemson continues to pile up lopsided wins over weak opponents. (This was a fifth straight win by at least 31 points after that one-point escape against North Carolina.) After being pretty shaky through the first seven games of the season, quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been dialed in: 48 of 63 for 769 yards, with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. Next for Clemson: Wake Forest Saturday.

Also considered: Baylor, Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Utah, Penn State, Oklahoma, Cincinnati.

MORE DASH: Candidates for Fourth CFP Spot | Trap Games | Preseason Duds