Joe Burrow entered the year largely as an unknown for LSU. He played well at times last year in his first season on the Bayou after transferring from Ohio State, but overall it looked like more of the same for an LSU program that has seemingly struggled forever to find a dynamic offense to compete with the game’s best.
Burrow’s Heisman odds were as low as 200-1 to start the season. Now they’re off the board.
How did he go from question mark to slam-dunk Heisman winner? How did he change the entire narrative around what was possible for LSU football and coach Ed Orgeron?
Here’s the story of Burrow’s season, as told through the biggest moments of his year. It’s a story filled with lots of touchdowns and a good bit of trolling, and it should culminate in a Heisman trophy Saturday night.
Week 2: Waving goodbye to the Horns
LSU 45, Texas 38
After throwing for 471 yards with four touchdowns in a 45-38 victory at Texas on Sept. 7, Burrow sat behind a microphone in front of dozens of reporters in a small room in the bowels of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. A reporter asked Burrow whether what he saw from the Tigers in their first two games — more than 1,000 yards of offense and 100 points — was an indication of what was to come. “It’s a long season,” Burrow said. “But you can take a look at the last two scoreboards, and you can figure that one out.” When another reporter asked Burrow whether he considered himself among the best quarterbacks in the country, he didn’t hesitate before answering. “I always kind of knew it,” he said. “I think everybody’s starting to see it a little bit.” After Burrow outdueled Longhorns star Sam Ehlinger in a Texas-like shootout, throwing his last touchdown, a 61-yarder to Justin Jefferson, with 2:27 left, there was little doubt about that. — Mark Schlabach
Joe Burrow waved goodbye to Texas fans late in the 4th ? pic.twitter.com/HGOtITdRjp
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 8, 2019
Week 7: Gators go down
LSU 42, Florida, 28
If they didn’t buy in before, if the game against Texas and the cupcakes in between weren’t enough, then they did now. Against one of the best defenses in the country — one that led the nation in interceptions and the SEC in sacks — Burrow was magnificent, attempting 24 passes and throwing the same number of touchdowns (three) as he had incompletions (three). He even showed off his wheels, running for 43 yards. But it was his final drive of the night that was the most impressive. Instead of nursing a seven-point lead, running the ball and running out the clock, coaches put the ball in Burrow’s hands, and he delivered. He immediately hit Ja’Marr Chase with a 15-yard strike down the sideline, found Thaddeus Moss for an 8-yard gain moments later, and then went deep to Chase again, this time for 54 yards and a touchdown. In the blink of an eye, LSU was ahead 14 points and the game was over. Afterward, Orgeron said of Burrow: “I believe he’s one of the best quarterbacks in America.” — Alex Scarborough
Week 9: Tigers get tested
LSU 23, Auburn 20
LSU’s offense would go on to put up video game numbers all season, reaching 50 points six times. But not against Auburn’s stout defensive front. Burrow & Co. faced a challenge in this game unlike any other. And although they still rolled up 508 yards of offense, they scored only 23 points and needed to recover a late onside kick to clinch the victory.
Burrow was his usual efficient self, throwing for 321 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for another 47 yards and a TD. But it was an otherwise ordinary 14-yard, second-quarter scramble from the quarterback that set the tone in this one.
On third-and-12 from the 9, Burrow scrambled toward the Auburn sideline, and as he picked up the first down was driven out of bounds with a vicious hit from Auburn corner Javaris Davis. Burrow hopped right back up and didn’t miss a beat. Seven plays later, he connected with receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. on a 20-yard touchdown pass to give LSU a 7-3 lead.
“If your quarterback shows toughness like that, it can kind of get your team going,” Burrow said. “If you lay down on the field and don’t hop right back up, it shows your team that you are not really into it.” — Ryan Canner-O’Mealy
Take a look at the best highlights from Joe Burrow’s senior season, which saw him lead LSU to a No. 1 ranking and emerge as a Heisman favorite.
Week 11: Joe slays the beast
LSU 46, Alabama 41
If it’s true that every Heisman Trophy winner requires a so-called “Heisman moment,” then this was it. And by “this” we mean pretty much the entire game, because Burrow came out against big, bad Alabama, which hadn’t lost to LSU in eight years, and put it on the Crimson Tide defense from start to finish. Burrow was pinpoint accurate, not throwing a single interception, and a tough runner, rushing for 64 hard-earned yards. By the time it was over and the Tigers had won 46-41 — an unthinkable score in years past — Burrow had completed 31 of 39 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns. His teammates hoisted him on their shoulders and he stuck out his tongue as he was carried across the field in celebration. During a postgame news conference, Orgeron was asked whether Burrow had just given a Heisman-caliber performance. “I don’t vote,” he said, “but if I get a vote, I’m giving it to him, I promise you that.” — Scarborough
LSU carried Joe Burrow off the field ? pic.twitter.com/prbFfDyH8H
— ESPN (@espn) November 10, 2019
Week 14: Joe Burreaux
LSU 50, Texas A&M 7
“Excited for Saturday.”#LSU Joe Burrow is ready for Texas A&M.
“Chance to go 12-0.”
(Swigs water) pic.twitter.com/px199ZVjsc
— Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) November 24, 2019
Burrow’s Tiger Stadium sendoff began with a custom-made, Cajun-inspired jersey, with BURREAX on the back, which the quarterback wore during senior introductions. After hugging his parents, Burrow, who had come up with the idea earlier in the week, pointed to the back of his jersey as he saluted the crowd.
“I thought it would be an awesome tribute to the state, to the university,” Burrow said.
He came to LSU as an Ohioan who couldn’t win the starting job for the Buckeyes. He leaves as the best quarterback in Tigers history, and an adopted son of the Bayou.
“Joe’s meant a lot to Louisiana,” Orgeron said. “Louisiana’s very proud of LSU football. People in Louisiana have heart, man. When they love you, they love you, and they love Joe and Joe loves them.”
Burrow led LSU to scoring drives on its first five possessions against Texas A&M, removing any doubt of another seven-overtime thriller. In the third quarter, Burrow set the SEC’s single-season passing record on an 11-yard pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Later in the quarter, he tied the SEC’s single-season touchdown pass record with his 44th, an 18-yard strike to Chase. Burrow recorded his sixth consecutive 300-yard passing performance (352 yards).
“I said in the past my goal was never to be the quarterback of an NFL team,” Burrow said afterward. “I wanted to be the quarterback of a top-10 team, playing in the national championship game, and we have a chance to do that. This is a dream come true for me.” — Adam Rittenberg
Absolute Legend ?
Joe. Burreaux. Forever. pic.twitter.com/xnnBf27M6I
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) November 30, 2019
SEC title game: Another Heisman moment
LSU 37, Georgia 10
Ed Orgeron reacts to LSU’s SEC title victory and explains why Joe Burrow may be the greatest recruit LSU ever had.
With an SEC championship and potential No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff on the line, Burrow delivered another masterpiece.
He threw for 349 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a dismantling of No. 4 Georgia. It was a performance that left no doubt as to whom would win the Heisman and was enough for the Tigers to leapfrog Ohio State for the top spot heading into the playoff.
“He’s one of the top recruits in LSU history,” Orgeron said after the game. “He’s changed the face of the offense, he’s the reason we could go to the spread.
Need proof? Look no further than this magical play from the third quarter.
Heisman Moment pic.twitter.com/V2Yw0bjiBT
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 7, 2019
From there, the Tigers rolled and it was time to start engraving Burrow’s name on the trophy. — Canner-O’Mealy
He Has Set College Football Off
A Name You Will Never Forget pic.twitter.com/PN7cif69v2
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) December 9, 2019
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