By Ed Daniels, Clarion Herald Sports
On the drive back Sunday morning from Meridian, Mississippi, a reporter wondered.
What is the definition of surreal?
Because, that is what happened on a Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
LSU had not scored a point in its last two games against Alabama in Baton Rouge.
But, on their first possession, the Tigers drove 92 yards in six plays to score the first TD of the game.
The drive was routine, almost easy, something LSU had done a lot this season. But, not against Alabama.
In 2018, LSU rushed for 12 yards against Alabama. One year later, LSU rushed for 166.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow threw the ball, with impunity, over the middle of the field, against the Alabama defense. LSU’s receivers won, time and again, against Alabama defensive backs. LSU receivers ran uncovered, wide open, in a confused Alabama secondary.
Against Alabama, LSU actually had the better quarterback. And, that’s no knock on Tua Tagavailoa, who is a tremendous talent. But, so is Burrow.
LSU had the best running back on the field in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. And, that’s no knock on Najee Harris, a very talented runner, who was the heart and soul of Alabama’s comeback in the second half.
The LSU offensive line, completely overmatched in last November’s meeting, stood up physically against the Tide defensive front.
If that is not enough surreal, here’s some more. When Alabama, called a “dynasty” by Burrow after the game, made its inevitable comeback, LSU answered with a pair of touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.
For much of the game, an Alabama crowd, who had watched their team win 31 games in a row at home, was hushed.
The silence, as they say, was deafening.
And, the things a reporter heard after the game could not have been comprehended a year ago.
“I got tired of hearing from all of the fake Alabama fans in Louisiana,” said center Lloyd Cushenberry. “It was great to shut them up.”
The coach at Alabama, Nick Saban, then actually said this about the LSU offense: “It was challenging to defend. … Look, they have no weaknesses on offense. … I can’t give them enough credit for what they do.”
And, from LSU. A reporter asked LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, “What’s the difference in this offense from one year to the next?”
“Coaching,” said Chase, pausing for some added emphasis. “Coaching.”
And, the head coach of the LSU Tigers said this: “We told our guys on Monday that we were the better team.”
And, after he said it, no one looked around the room, and thought, does Ed Orgeron really mean it?
Orgeron added: “But, we had to prove it.”
And, they did. Surreal, indeed.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.