AUSTIN, Texas — Heading downstairs to a team meeting Saturday morning, Ed Orgeron ambled up to an elevator full of Texas fans at the LSU team hotel and watched the doors slowly close in his face.
The Texas fans opened it back up for him in a "howdy, pardner" sort of way. But if those Longhorns fans knew what Orgeron’s team had in store for Texas on Saturday night, they might have hit the stop button on the way down.
If Orgeron knew what was in his immediate future, he probably wouldn’t have minded.
Orgeron has had some big wins in nearly three years as LSU’s coach. The victory over Texas A&M on Thanksgiving 2016, which ended up turning into the full-time coach. Wins over Miami, Georgia and Auburn last year. And LSU’s Fiesta Bowl win over UCF, which put the Tigers in the top 10 to end last season and kept them there entering this season. They were all big.
AUSTIN, Texas — Joe Burrow silenced Texas with a steady series of throws.
But this? A 45-38 win over Texas and its coach, Tom Herman? The guy so many LSU people wanted to hire three years ago? The guy who picked Texas instead and had so many believing LSU settled for less when it chose Orgeron? The cutting-edge kid against the retread?
Bundle all that with LSU’s first all-time win in the home stadium of a top-10 nonconference opponent. The meaning of this win, for this program and this coach, runneth over.
It’s hard not to say this is the signature game of the Coach O era.
It’s not hard to say this is the biggest win of his coaching life.
Every game against a ranked opponent seems like a referendum for Orgeron. It was a wild victory, and the Tigers hung on by their claws at the end. But it was a win for sure for the Louisiana Tigers and their Louisiana-born and bred coach.
You could have understood if Orgeron sauntered into his packed postgame news conference with a little Joe Burrow swagger and delivered Texas Minister of Culture Matthew McConaughey’s signature line: “All right! All right! All right!”
Orgeron was asked if he was reveling in the moment from a personal standpoint. It was a question he clearly saw coming.
“Zero,” he said. “This will never be about me. This is about our team. I'm just glad we won, man.
A few LSU's defenders appeared to struggle with cramping Saturday night vs. Texas, leading to questions about the legitimacy of the ailments.
Sure, LSU had some good fortune. The Longhorns completely blew a touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal in the first quarter, when Keaontay Ingram dropped a wide-open throw from Sam Ehlinger in the left flat.
Then, after Burrow threw a tipped interception that Joseph Ossai returned to the LSU 4, the Longhorns again came up empty when Patrick Queen and Glen Logan threw down Ehlinger at the 3 on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
It was one of the few moments of defensive brilliance for these teams, who ended up allowing a combined 1,105 yards total offense (was this game played in Big 12 country or what?).
Both teams, who bickered over the unofficial and rapidly growing more tiresome moniker “DBU” are hereby demanded to stop spewing all this hot air until they can actually stop someone who throws it (Georgia Southern does not count, LSU, and Texas gave up 340 yards passing last week to Louisiana Tech). Texas has to burn the “DBU” T-shirts, and LSU has to agree to give away any of its own as Mardi Gras throws.
On the other side, it was a breathtaking offensive display by both teams. The conjecture was that Burrow and Ehlinger were a well-matched set and that proved to be exactly the case. Burrow threw for 471 yards and four touchdowns, while Ehlinger countered with 401 yards and four scores plus a rushing TD.
Of course, they’ve been slinging the ball around like this for years here on Texas’ 40 acres. For LSU, this type of offense has been like discovering a new planet orbiting on the other side of the sun. And the rest of the college football world probably isn’t going to be happy about the Tigers’ discovery.
As someone posted on social media, LSU learning how to pass may be like Happy Gilmore learning how to putt.
It was Orgeron who embraced this offense, a defensive coach at heart who recognized the need to adapt to the rapidly accelerating modern college game. Revamping the offense to fit his quarterback’s skills, as Burrow was a run-pass-option quarterback his entire football life except for last season.
“Well, it's a vision that I always had when we took over, and we finally got there,” Orgeron said. “It took a couple of miscues to get there, but we're finally there and we have the coaches to do it, we have the receivers to do it, we have the quarterback to do it, and we're going to get better. We're going to keep on getting better in this system.”
And as for Coach O’s elevator?
It’s on the way up right now.
Way, way up.
LSU doesn't actually own Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium, even if a team flag said otherwise for a short while.