LSU starting quarterback Joe Burrow (right) is pictured as he is being interviewed by ESPN’s Holly Rowe (left) on the field after the Tigers defeated Texas A&M Saturday night 50-7 to cap off a 12-0 regular season. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Purple and gold perfection
With a dominating and convincing 50-7 win in Tiger Stadium Saturday night over Texas A&M, the LSU Tigers capped off an undefeated 12-0 season.
“It’s been a Cinderella season,” said Third Circuit Court of Appeal Judge John Saunders of Ville Platte. “They were not expected to be that good. Of course, anytime you beat Alabama makes the season by itself. But, beating everybody is incredible.”
Saunders continued, “This is an incredible season. It’s just dramatic and fun. To go 12-0, beat Alabama, beat Florida, beat A&M, and beat everybody doesn’t get much better than that. The rest might be icing on the cake.”
It is the third time LSU has had an undefeated season and first since 2011. “The 2011 season was very comparable until it ended badly when Cinderella stayed at the dance too long,” Saunders said.
The other time was in 1958. “I remember the 1958 season when LSU won the national championship,” Saunders said. “They were not considered any type of contender when they started the season, but they just took it one game at a time. They won every game and won the national championship.”
Saunders’ law clerk David LaHaye said, “I’m sort of a spoiled LSU fan. They’ve been undefeated in the regular season three times in history now, and I’ve seen two out of the three. I kind of feel lucky.”
“I remember growing up thinking I would never ever see LSU even be kind of considered a national contender,” he continued, “and now they have a chance this year to win their third championship in my lifetime. That would be wild.”
Leading the Tigers to this undefeated season is a kid from Athens, Ohio, named Joe Burrow who transferred from Ohio State.
In his second season as starting quarterback this year, Burrow has captivated the entire student body in Baton Rouge and the entire state as a whole.
Realizing how much he means to the state and wanting to show his appreciation, Burrow wore a nameplate on his jersey before the game Saturday night with his name spelled “Burreaux.”
“Louisiana’s a special place, man,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said during the post game press conference. “LSU is special place. When you play for the Tigers, you’re a Tiger.”
“Joe’s meant a lot to Louisiana,” Orgeron added. “Louisiana is 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.”
Saunders compared Burrow to former Tiger Billy Cannon who helped lead LSU to the national championship in 1958 and who is the only Heisman Trophy winner to wear the purple and gold.
“Burrow is the Billy Cannon of this century,” Saunders said. “Cannon was that way in the 50s. He was bigger than life, and Burrow has got the same charisma that he did. I remember it well. They were writing songs about Cannon. He was just an incredible athlete.”
“Burrow is the same thing,” Saunders continued. “People are in love with him. There have been some very good players between Cannon and Burrow, but I don’t remember anybody who ever captivated the people’s imagination the way Burrow has like Cannon did for two seasons.”
Burrow is also drawing comparisons to Cannon as he is in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy this year. For Saunders, it is a cinch for him to win the trophy.
“They’re pushing that Ohio State defensive end (Chase Young) who is a very good defensive end, but they have awards for very good defensive ends,” Saunders said. “Burrow broke all the records and took a team that was barely top 10 to the top of the heap. He just made some tremendous plays. He broke the SEC record in passing yardage and tied the record for touchdowns. There are only so many records you could break in one season.”
As LaHaye explained, the SEC yardage record was set in 1998 by Kentucky’s Tim Couch. “The record Chase Young broke is the Ohio State sack record,” he said. “Well, that’s an individual team record. We have a guy breaking conference records and is going to obliterate the national completion percentage record that Colt McCoy set at Texas. What’s interesting about it is Burrow’s yards per attempt is huge. It’s not some dink and doink screens to the running back. It’s down the field. If it’s an incompletion, it’s either a throw away or a drop. It’s very rare that he misses. It’s wild.”
LaHaye continued, “He looks like a professional quarterback running the Saints’ offense with a bunch of college kids. I guess maybe because he said he is majoring in football for his grad school. He’s taking one class, and it shows.”
Heisman Trophy winners are no strangers to Ville Platte. Cannon, back in 2017, came to Ville Platte and visited Saunders’ home for a reunion with college friend Coach Bobby Soileau. The other was Vic Janowicz, who won the award in 1950.
“He was in the service and stationed at Fort Polk,” Saunders said. “He’d stay overnight in Ville Platte to or from Fort Polk. He’d go to the movie theater and became friends with Terry Fusilier, who ran with Billy Cannon for the famous run. He and Vic Janowicz were big buddies.”
“One night at the Evangeline Club,” Saunders continued, “Vic Janowicz was there. Terry had gone that night, and all the seats at the bar were taken. Janowicz said, ‘C’mon, little man, you can sit with me.’ He picked Terry up and put him on the bar stool. They both sat on the bar stool because Terry was very small. They sat together and had a beer.”
After Burrow wins the Heisman Trophy this season, Saunders said, “He’ll be invited to Ville Platte.”
LaHaye added, “The invitation is sent. He doesn’t need to RSVP. He can come as he wants.”
“We’ll set the date to his convenience,” Saunders concluded.