BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Joe Burrow passed for 200 yards and had two short touchdown runs, LSU’s defense staggered Georgia’s normally prolific offense, and the 13th-ranked Tigers beat the No. 2 Bulldogs 36-16 on Saturday to give coach Ed Orgeron a signature victory.
Five fourth-down decisions by Orgeron influenced the result. LSU converted all four times it ran an offensive play on fourth-and-short, sustaining three drives that produced a total of 13 points.
“We were going to be as aggressive as we can. We were going to take shots and go for it and play to win the game the whole time,” Orgeron said. “We were going for it as hard as we can today. We were throwing out the kitchen sink, man. We were giving them everything we had and we did it.”
In another instance, Orgeron called timeout and elected to punt on fourth-and-2 after the offense initially remained on the field. That decision pinned Georgia at its 4, and Kristian Fulton’s interception of Jake Fromm’s pass shortly afterward set up another of Cole Tracy’s five field goals.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 133 yards for LSU (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), and Justin Jefferson caught six passes for 108 yards, including a 41-yard snag of a pass rifled over the middle and between converging defenders. That catch set up Burrow’s second TD in the fourth quarter.
“We’re an up-and-coming football team. We’ve still got a long ways to go, but we want to lead LSU to a championship,” Orgeron said. “Where this takes us, we don’t know, but hopefully it gives us some confidence we can play with anybody in the country.”
Nick Brossette added a short touchdown in the final minutes after Burrow’s 59-yard scamper. Fans rushed the field, ignoring pleas not to do so from the public address announcer, as the game ended.
Orgeron largely deflected credited when asked about his role in the outcome, but his players made it clear out they felt about him.
“The best way we can defend our head coach, who we love, is by winning football games,” senior tight end Foster Moreau said.
Fromm had by far his worst game this season, completing 16 of 34 passes for 209 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
He said after the game that LSU’s defense gave him new and exotic pre-snap formations.
“They did a good job with some third-down crazy stuff, some one-hit-wonder stuff. But we kind of got ourselves in a mess with the third-and-longs,” Fromm said. “I don’t know. We made some plays. I think they made more plays. We just really couldn’t string them all together.”
LSU’s defense registered three sacks and the combination of pressure and coverage seemed to get Georgia’s offense out of synch, with a number of passes sailing to no one.
“We’re just a different group of DBs,” Fulton said. “That’s our game plan, to be physical with them at the line. That’s what we did and you could tell their timing was off.”
Behind from the beginning, Georgia (6-1, 4-1) was unable to turn to its running game as much as it might have preferred. Averaging about 245 yards, the Bulldogs finished with 113 at LSU, led by D’Andre Swift’s 72 yards. Elijah Holyfield scored Georgia’s first touchdown late in the third quarter.
“We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘Ok, who are we? Is this who we are?” Georgia coach Kirby Smart began. “Because we’ve consistently not played as physical as we need to on the defensive line and we haven’t been as consistent as we need to offensively.”
Georgia could tumble a number of spots, depending on how much voters weigh its relatively unimpressive schedule prior to visiting Death Valley. LSU, which dropped from fifth after losing at Florida a week earlier, could very well climb back into the top 10 in the AP Top 25 .
Georgia: While Georgia had won all of its previous games by at least two touchdowns, none of its previous opponents were ranked as of this week. The game more than lived up to its billing as the Bulldogs’ toughest test yet, and a Georgia offense that came in averaging 42.8 points looked uncomfortable much of the game.
LSU: The Tigers have not lost two straight since Orgeron took over for Les Miles four games into the 2016 season and now are 7-0 immediately after a loss. LSU now needs one more victory to set up a pivotal clash with Alabama on Nov. 3 for control of the SEC Western Division.
Georgia takes the next week off before meeting Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 27.
LSU hosts Mississippi State on Saturday.