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LSU linebacker Patrick Queen (8) and LSU defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence (90) combine for the sack of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) during the second half of LSU's football game against Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. LSU won 46-41.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Goodbye, Alabama losing streak.

Goodbye, unbeatable Nick Saban myth.

Hello, vise grip on the Southeastern Conference Western Division and a trip to the SEC Championship Game.

Hello, No. 1 ranking in Tuesday’s College Football Playoff top 25 — and a virtual lock on a spot in the national semifinals if LSU wins out.

Hello, Heisman Trophy for Joe Burrow.

In one fell swoop, on one sun-splashed Saturday that turned into a chilly November night, with President Donald Trump and the first lady looking on, no less, the Fighting Tigers settled all accounts.

LSU 46, Alabama 41.

This was for all those years of anguish against Alabama.

For 21-0 in the 2012 BCS championship game.

For eight straight losses in all.

For Vadal Alexander’s phantom penalty in 2014 that led to an overtime loss.

For being blanked in Tiger Stadium in 2016 and 2018.

For the grim look Les Miles wore beneath his starched white hat, season after season.

For the frustration that worked its way into the lines of Ed Orgeron’s face every time he had to shake hands with Saban after yet another Alabama win.

For every time LSU had to hear Alabama fans’ taunting chant, “We just beat the hell outa you!”

LSU had some news for Alabama on this monumental, historic college football Saturday:

Beat it, kid.

“The whole state of Louisiana deserved this win,” an emotional Orgeron told ESPN, flanked by his wife Kelly and their son Cody. “They beat us for eight years. We got tired of hearing their stuff, man. It was time.”

This win was the goal in an important quest for LSU’s football program.

Orgeron made the unabashed declaration early in his tenure as LSU’s coach: “We’re coming. And we’re not backing down.”

Unofficially, beating Alabama became LSU’s mission. It’s moonshot. Not only Coach O but everyone knew to be the best, the Tigers had to topple the SEC’s longtime standard-bearer.

While LSU spent much of the past decade losing to Alabama, it was also pouring millions of dollars into new facilities and big-ticket assistant coaches and behind-the-scenes analysts, recruited hard (Orgeron is always recruiting), and revamped the culture of its program and its offensive identity, with the goal of slaying the dragon.

At long last, after eight years of suffering, this was the day.

“I told the team tonight: We’re drawing the line,” Orgeron said. “We’ve had enough. Here we come.”

Everyone figured this so-called Game of the Century would not be a carbon copy of 2011’s Game of the Century, a defense-dominated 9-6 LSU overtime victory and its most recent win in this series. Both offenses were too explosive this time, with Burrow, LSU’s quarterback, and his bristling array of receivers and Bama’s Tua Tagovailoa and his arsenal of playmakers.

The experts were right. There were touchdowns in this game aplenty. LSU had just enough of them to make the difference.

Burrow told reporters in the summer the Tigers would score 40, 50, 60 points per game with their new spread offense. One year after a 29-0 loss to Alabama in Tiger Stadium, LSU scored its most points ever against the Crimson Tide. In their previous four games against Bama, the Tigers scored 26 points total.

“I told ya,” said Burrow, who was carried off on teammates shoulders. “No one believed me. I told ya.”

I wonder if an Ohio boy like Burrow can fully comprehend what this win meant to LSU fans, to Louisiana.

I wonder what it feels like to become immortal.

As long as people care about LSU football they will never forget you, Joe. Never.

Burrow, by the way, came into this game as a better-than-even-money favorite to win the Heisman, college football’s most prestigious individual award.

After this night, he has at least one hand on the trophy now, aiming to become only the second LSU player to win it after Billy Cannon in 1959.

Burrow had fewer yards passing (393) than Tagovailoa (418), who played gamely on a surgically repaired right ankle. But Burrow also rushed 14 times for 64 yards, including a nifty 18-yard gain to the 7-yard line that set up a clinching touchdown run by pocket battleship tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He rushed for 103 yards and caught passes for 77 more with four touchdowns total.

Burrow likes to throw, but he also enjoys mixing it up on the run.

“It makes me feel like a real football player instead of just a quarterback,” he said.


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For all the enormity of this win, it is hardly the end of LSU’s season. The Tigers have three regular-season games to go with Ole Miss, Arkansas and Texas A&M. Then likely the SEC Championship Game against Georgia in Atlanta.

Then the College Football Playoff? Nothing is a lock, but it seems very likely now that LSU will make its first trip to the national semifinals since the CFP began in 2014.

In 2011, LSU beat Alabama then had to turnaround and play the Crimson Tide for the national title. That could happen again. But the Crimson Tide, No. 1 in the coaches’ poll coming in but No. 3 in the CFP rankings, only has one more chance for a splashy victory, against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. (It's an Auburn team that LSU has already beaten). Bama made the first five College Football Playoffs, but a sixth trip is in doubt.

In a jam-packed news conference, Orgeron talked about people coming up to him since he became head coach in 2016, imploring him to beat Alabama.

“Everybody says that,” Kelly Orgeron said, tearful and spent after a four-hour ordeal only a coach’s wife and family can comprehend. “So we did it. We beat Alabama.

“I wonder what they’re going to say next?”

At long last, LSU people can ponder wondrous possibilities instead of lamenting yet another defeat to that man. That team. That school.

It was more than a win for LSU. It was historic, cathartic and self-affirming, in a way no other win could be.

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com