The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC Weekend Rewind: Week 11

243 days ago
Brandon Zimmerman | SEC Network

LSU hired Ed Orgeron to do two things - modernize the Tigers offense and beat Alabama.

It took three years, but on a glorious autumn afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Orgeron did just that.

Behind a passing offense coached by one of the hottest young minds in the sport - Joe Brady - and orchestrated on the field by perhaps the best quarterback in college football - Joe Burrow - LSU ended eight years of futility to the Crimson Tide with a 46-41 win on Saturday.

Burrow stepped to the front of the Heisman Trophy race by completing 31-of-39 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing 14 times for 64 yards. With Alabama charging back in the second half behind the force of a raucous crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Burrow calmly led a pair of 75-yard fourth quarter touchdown drives to seal the victory.

"He's one of the best we've had here," Orgeron said. "But we've still got four games left and we're going down the road, we're going to try to win every game and we're going to bring a championship back to Louisiana."

The path to championship contention for Orgeron wasn't instantaneous. Orgeron endured an unsuccessful partnership with offensive coordinator Matt Canada in his first full season as LSU's head coach in 2017. Then, signs of progress in 2018 hit a major speed bump in a 29-0 shutout loss to Alabama at home.

That set the stage for Orgeron to hire Brady in the offseason to help give the Tigers' offense a boost. Brady has been credited with modernizing LSU's offense, and developing Burrow into a star.

Asked about what is different with LSU's offense this season, Alabama coach Nick Saban insinuated it is coaching.

"I think it's the system," Saban said. "I think it's the things that they're doing. I think it really features the players. I think he has -- talking about the quarterback now, Joe -- has a really good handle on what they're trying to do. It's challenging to defend. It utilizes the people that they have. Look, they have no weaknesses on offense."

Afterward, Orgeron got emotional discussing the importance of the win for the school, and his state in an interview with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi. Asked why he was emotional, Orgeron said, "Well they beat us for eight years, we got tired of hearing their stuff, man."

DIVISION CLINCHING SCENARIOS: Before we pencil LSU and Georgia into the SEC title game, let's remember neither team has clinched their division. Georgia can clinch the East this week with a win at Auburn or a Florida loss at Missouri. LSU clinches the West with a win at Ole Miss and losses by Alabama and Texas A&M.

Considering Alabama will be favored to win its remaining games, the most likely division-clinching scenario for LSU is to beat Ole Miss this week and Arkansas the following week in Baton Rouge.

ALABAMA'S PLAYOFF HOPES TAKE A HIT: History tells us not to count Alabama out of the playoff picture. Two years ago, Alabama reached the playoff and won the national championship despite not reaching the SEC title game. ESPN's Allstate Playoff Predictor gives the Crimson Tide a 69% chance to reach the playoff if they finish 11-1.

The Crimson Tide got some help on Saturday when Minnesota upset Penn State. That outcome resulted in the Big Ten's chances of getting two teams into the playoff down to plummet from 40 percent to nine percent.

Brace yourself for a wild final few weeks. There is still a lot of football left to be played.

VOLS FIND THEIR SPARK IN 'SIXTH MAN': There is no 'Sixth Man of the Year' award in football. But if there were, Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano would certainly be a front runner.

The Vols' opening day quarterback has now come off the bench in each of the team's last six games. Tennessee is 4-2 in those games, a major rebound from a 1-4 start.

The most recent was on Saturday night in Lexington. Guarantano replaced starter Brian Maurer to start the second half and led the Vols on two third quarter touchdown drives to key the 17-13 victory.

Earlier this season, coach Jeremy Pruitt compared Guarantano's new role to that of a 'Sixth Man' in basketball, ready to come off the bench at a moment's notice.

Making Guarantano's success even more remarkable? He's doing it with a broken bone in his left hand that requires him to wear a soft case under a glove.

EXTRA POINTS: Georgia has now shut out three opponents in the same season for the first time since 1981. The Bulldogs are second in FBS in scoring defense, giving up 10.1 points per game. ... Ole Miss ran for 447 yards against New Mexico State, the fifth most in school history and the most since 1962. ... Arkansas' Rakeem Boyd became the second SEC player over the last 15 seasons with multiple 75-yard TD runs in a game, joining Leonard Fournette in 2016 vs Ole Miss. ... Kyle Trask's 363 passing yards were the most by a Florida player since Tim Tebow threw for 482 yards in his final game against Cincinnati. ... Alabama's Devonta Smith became the fifth Alabama player with 10 receiving touchdowns in a season. The others are Amari Cooper, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and Al Lary.