Worthy. There's no other way to put it after Saturday night's SEC Championship as No. 2 LSU spanked No. 4 Georgia 37-10.
The Tigers proved worthy in a number of areas as they cruised to a dominant win over the Bulldogs. Worthy of being the No. 1 seed for the College Football Playoff, worthy of standing atop the SEC for the first time since 2011, worthy of a quarterback and the school he plays for, to take home the Heisman trophy for the first time since 1959.
Worth is something that must be proved on the field and the Tigers did exactly that, capping off a historic 13-0 season with an SEC Championship. But as quarterback Joe Burrow said after the game, "we're not done yet."
"I'm just so proud of these guys but this is not our final destination," coach Ed Orgeron said after the game. "We have two more games to play but we are so proud to win the SEC, the best conference in the United States."
The Georgia defense came into Saturday allowing a nation-leading 10.4 points per game. By the end of the first quarter the LSU offense had surpassed that mark, scoring 14 points in three possessions during the opening frame.
LSU would hang 17 points on the Bulldogs in the first half behind a 204-yard, two touchdown performance from Burrow, who passed the SEC single-season touchdown record on the first drive of the game.
Burrow was in such a groove early, he completed a 16-yard pass to himself.
The senior quarterback would finish with 347 yards through the air for four touchdowns while also leading the team in rushing for much of the game with 41 yards on the ground.
Wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall hauled in a pair of first quarter touchdowns as LSU jumped out to a 14-0 lead. With Chase hampered with an illness throughout the night, Marshall and Jefferson received the brunt of the work. Marshall brought in five catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns while Jefferson added 115 yards and a touchdown.
Yet after 30 minutes of play, it couldn't help but feel like the Tigers should've been up by more than 14 points.
LSU was moving the ball, combining for 255 yards in the first half despite the run game not moving the needle much. A drop by Marshall in the second quarter that would've gone for a touchdown, kept LSU from blowing the doors open with a 21-3 lead. LSU had to settle for a few field goals as the highly-touted Bulldog redzone defense kept it an uncomfortable lead going into the break.
Freshman kicker Cade York would finish with three field goals and four extra points, totaling 13 points on the evening, the most scored in an SEC Championship game.
With this latest performance from the LSU defense, it's fair to say Dave Aranda's unit has answered all the questions that have been raised. That now makes three straight weeks where the Tiger starters have held an opponent under 10 points (against Arkansas starters allowed just six).
One of the big questions coming into the weekend would be how the LSU front seven would handle a Bulldog rushing attack that averaged 200 yards per game.
Well after one half, that running game was non-existent as Georgia had 19 yards on 15 carries, a 1.3 yard per carry average. The Bulldogs would finish with a measly 61 yards rushing on 25 attempts as the Tiger defense combined for three sacks and four tackles for a loss en route to holding Georgia to 286 yards of total offense. Sophomore pass rusher K'Lavon Chaisson and junior safety Grant Delpit each recorded a sack on Fromm.
Already down his top-two receivers, Fromm lost freshman Dominick Blaylock in the first quarter, severely hindering his receiving options. Nonetheless, the secondary still had to do its job as the Tigers forced Fromm into a 20-for-42 day that was capped off by a pair of Derek Stingley interceptions.
Stingley would show off all of his skills that have made him a freshman superstar, breaking on a Fromm pass in the third quarter for his second pick of the afternoon and adding a pass breakup to his stat line.
"Some people forget he’s a true freshman," Burrow said of Stingley. "I forget sometimes."
A well-rounded second half effort was highlighted by the play of the weekend in the third quarter. With a 20-3 lead and a chance to put a dagger into Georgia, Burrow delivered on one of the great plays you'll see by a college quarterback. With Georgia bringing a heavy blitz, Burrow was able to dodge two Bulldog defenders and connect with Jefferson down field for a 71-yard gain.
"It was all improvised," Burrow said of the route. "Justin ran a six-yard hitch route.”
It was the pinnacle Heisman moment for the senior who in the summer of 2018, just wanted to fit in, just wanted to do his job.
As Burrow stood on the stage, moments after being named MVP of the SEC Championship, he was asked what this moment meant for him.
"Playing for this great university and this great state is a dream come true for me," Burrow said. "This is what we worked for, it doesn't come to a surprise to anybody on this stage, but we're not done yet. Thank you so much for allowing me to become a Louisiana native, this state's been great to me and welcomed me like a brother."