Tigers take it easy

QB Bur­row leads No. 2 LSU in rout, se­cur­ing SEC ti­tle, spot in na­tional semi­fi­nals

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Paul New­berry

AT­LANTA — Joe Bur­row fin­ished off his likely Heis­man Tro­phy corona­tion with an­other daz­zling per­for­mance and No. 2 LSU locked up a spot in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off for the first time, dom­i­nat­ing No. 4 Ge­or­gia 37-10 in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game Satur­day.

The Tigers, go­ing for their first na­tional ti­tle since 2007 sea­son, will ei­ther re­turn to At­lanta or head west to sub­ur­ban Phoenix for a semi­fi­nal game on Dec. 28. Their bowl site and op­po­nent will be an­nounced on Sun­day, but they surely made a per­sua­sive case to be the top over­all seed in the four-team field.

Bur­row was all over the stat sheet for LSU (13-0). He threw for 349 yards and four touch­downs. He was the Tigers’ sec­ondlead­ing rusher with 41 yards on 11 car­ries, of­ten leav­ing the Bull­dogs grasp­ing at air as he twirled this way and that. He even caught a pass on a ball that was bat­ted down at the line and wound up his arms, tak­ing off for a 16-yard gain.

“Joe is the heart­beat of this team,” run­ning back Clyde Ed­wards-He­laire said.

The Heis­man-wor­thy mo­ment came late in the third quar­ter. With Ge­or­gia (11-2) bring­ing the heat, Bur­row spun to his left to get away from line­man Travon Walker, whirled back to his right to send Walker sprawl­ing to the turf, then de­liv­ered a pass on the run while sprint­ing to­ward the LSU side­line with an­other de­fender in hot pur­suit.

“He’s a great ath­lete, man,” Ge­or­gia safety J.R. Reed said. “We had a lot of plays out there we were sup­posed to make, and he’d just squeeze out of it.”

Justin Jef­fer­son hauled in the throw just be­yond mid­field and took off down to the Bull­dogs 9 for a 71-yard play. Three plays later, Bur­row de­liv­ered his third TD pass of the game, hook­ing up with Ter­race Mar­shall Jr., on a 4-yard touch­down pass that es­sen­tially fin­ished off the Bull­dogs.

Bur­row wasn’t done. Derek St­in­g­ley’s sec­ond pick of Jake Fromm turned the ball back over to the pro­lific LSU of­fense at the 13, and Bur­row wasted no time find­ing Justin Jef­fer­son for an 8-yard TD that sent many in the pre­dom­i­nantly Ge­or­gia crowd head­ing for the ex­its at Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium.

LSU left no doubt it is the king of the mighty SEC, com­plet­ing its run through a gaunt­let of the league’s top teams. The Tigers had al­ready knocked off Alabama, Florida and Auburn. Now, they can add the Bull­dogs to the list, en­sur­ing the SEC will only get one team in the na­tional play­off.

LSU came into the game as the sec­ond­high­est scor­ing team in the coun­try be­hind Ohio State. They fig­ured to have a tougher time against Ge­or­gia’s stel­lar de­fense, ranked No. 2 in points al­lowed. but Bur­row kept the Bull­dogs on their heels.

It was by far the most points Ge­or­gia has given up their sea­son. Un­til Satur­day, they held ev­ery op­po­nent un­der 20 ex­cept South Carolina, which stunned the Bull­dogs in dou­ble over­time nearly two months ago. There was no such drama in this one. Mar­shall hauled in a pair of touch­down passes, also gath­er­ing a 7-yard scor­ing play that pro­pelled LSU to a 14-0 lead in the first quar­ter. Ja’Marr Chase capped a 75-yard drive on the Tigers’ open­ing pos­ses­sion with a 23-yard touch­down catch.

It was a painful loss — lit­er­ally — for the Bull­dogs, who were mak­ing their third straight ap­pear­ance in the SEC ti­tle game.

Two play­ers were carted off the field with ap­par­ently ma­jor in­juries. Fromm twisted an an­kle and had to go to the med­i­cal tent to get taped up, though he was able to fin­ish the game.

KEVIN C. COX/GETTY-AFP

LSU coach Ed Org­eron talks with QB Joe Bur­row dur­ing the Tigers’ vic­tory over Ge­or­gia in the SEC cham­pi­onship game Satur­day.

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