Joe Burrow, LSU Destroy Jake Fromm, Georgia 36-16 to Earn Huge SEC Win

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2018

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 13: Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers throws the ball during the first half against the Georgia Bulldogs at Tiger Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The 13th-ranked LSU Tigers handed the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs their first loss of the 2018 season, winning 36-16 Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

LSU's defense held Georgia to 322 total yards and forced three turnovers—with another coming on a Bulldogs kickoff return.

On the other side of the ball, Tigers running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire had an excellent game, running for 145 yards on 19 carries. Joe Burrow threw for 200 yards while running for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

     

LSU Re-Enters Playoff Conversation with Big Win

Losing to Georgia almost assuredly would've knocked LSU out of the College Football Playoff race for good. In FiveThirtyEight's college football projection model, the Tigers had a 4 percent chance of reaching the semifinals heading into Week 7.

LSU has three more ranked opponents on the schedule—not counting a possible SEC Championship Game—and the team's body of work has looked less impressive with each passing week.

The Miami Hurricanes narrowly avoided an upset to the Florida State Seminoles and don't play a ranked team the rest of the regular season. The Auburn Tigers, meanwhile, dropped their second game in a row.

Beating Georgia is the kind of result LSU needed to prove to its critics it's a genuine national title contender.

The Tigers may not have an explosive offense, but the unit is a good enough complement to what can be a dominant defense.

Edwards-Helaire deserves a lot of credit for helping wear down the Georgia defense over the course of Saturday's game, and Burrow also avoided making any costly mistakes.

Catapulting LSU into the top four after Week 7 might be slightly undeserved since five Power Five teams remain unbeaten. The Tigers warrant consideration, though, among those teams knocking on the door of a playoff position.

      

Georgia Needs to Change Approach at Quarterback with Difficult Stretch Ahead

Justin Fields was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and No. 2 player overall in the 2018 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

The true freshman looked good in limited action through his first six games, throwing for 200 yards and two touchdowns and running for another 133 yards and three scores.

With Jake Fromm laboring through a difficult evening, some wondered whether Georgia head coach Kirby Smart would turn to Fields at quarterback.

Instead, Fromm handled starting duties for nearly the entire game, throwing for 209 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on 16-of-34 passing.

Going to a full-on QB switch would be extreme. Fromm hasn't been that bad this season, and he's only a year removed from helping get Georgia to the CFP National Championship Game.

Having said that, the Florida Gators, Kentucky Wildcats and Auburn are the Bulldogs' next three opponents. Those three teams ranked second, eighth and ninth in passing efficiency defense entering Saturday.

Smart would be foolish not to utilize Fields more against what are three excellent secondaries. Fields' mobility brings a different dimension to what Georgia has with Fromm, who's a more traditional quarterback.

      

LSU Can't Keep Leaving Points on the Board Inside Red Zone

Despite out-gaining the Bulldogs 246-124 in the first half, LSU was only up 16 points at halftime. A 16-point cushion didn't seem all that comforting against a Georgia offense that was averaging 42.8 points per game.

Georgia then made it a 10-point game with seven seconds left in the third quarter following a 10-yard touchdown run by Elijah Holyfield.

LSU pulled away late in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers' inability to capitalize on its red-zone possessions allowed Georgia to stay in the game.

Three times in the first half LSU moved the ball to Georgia's 20-yard line but had to settle for a field goal. The Tigers also kicked a field goal with 7:20 remaining in the game despite starting their drive on the Bulldogs' 14-yard line. Granted, they were already up 26-9 before Cole Tracy converted from 30 yards out.

The good news is that Tracy was 5-of-5 on his field-goal attempts and made all three of his extra points. The senior is now 17-of-19 on the season.

Getting three points instead of six on multiple trips to the red zone wasn't costly Saturday, but it may be the difference in a close game down the road. Especially when they face off with the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Tigers can ill afford to let those kinds of chances slip through their grasp.

      

What's Next?

LSU stays at home next Saturday for a matchup with the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and a date with the top-ranked Crimson Tide looms Nov. 3. Georgia takes a week off before its annual trip to Jacksonville, Florida, for a rivalry game with No. 14 Florida on Oct. 27.

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