LSU is a legitimate national title contender thanks to important changes from coach Ed Orgeron

Drew Alleman drilled a 25-yard field goal in overtime on Nov. 7, 2011, to give LSU a 9-6 win over Alabama in what is commonly known as the "Game of the Century." LSU players swarmed the field in celebration because the door swung open for the Tigers to retake the throne atop of the SEC West.

That moment was fleeting.

Alabama slammed it shut, double-bolted the lock and threw away the key in a 21-0 shellacking in the BCS National Championship Game later that season. Since then, LSU has essentially been ramming its head against that door in the hopes of finally unseating the Crimson Tide.

It could happen this year for the first time since that kick sailed through the uprights and sent a hush throughout Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

For the last seven seasons, LSU fans have endured offensive ineptitude, broken hearts, false hope and relentless criticism from skeptics who never bought into unwarranted offseason hype -- of which I was one of the loudest. Understand that those critics, myself included, aren't haters, biased against LSU. Nor do we hold grudges against former coach Les Miles and/or current coach Ed Orgeron. This was an LSU problem that LSU needed to fix. All that we did was point out the blatantly obvious.

LSU fixed it, and proved it on Saturday night deep in the heart of Texas with a 45-38 win over the home-standing Longhorns. In that win, the Tigers racked up 8.43 yards per play, quarterback Joe Burrow lit it up with 471 yards and four touchdowns and actually threw the ball when they were trying to salt away the game late in the fourth quarter. Why? Because that's what they're good at in this actual universe, not "the upside down" in Stranger Things.

So, now what? That's simple. Hushing the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 9 is the next order of business for coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers. It might as well be the only order of business from here until the end of the 2019 season. 

Orgeron is 15-4 in conference play against teams not named Alabama since becoming LSU's coach in the middle of the 2016 season, which is nothing to scoff at. Most coaches would do cartwheels with that record on the resume. But LSU's problem was that it was unable to dictate the style of play of every game. Or, more simply, the Tigers wanted to play old school football and refused to prepare for a Plan B that required the offense to go point-for-point with the opponent.

That changed with Orgeron's hiring of Joe Brady as his passing game coordinator. But he's not the real savior here. The real hero of the LSU offensive revolution is Burrow. He's the one executing it. He's the one who stood strong and delivered strike after strike on Saturday even when he knew that he was about to get a face-full of a Longhorn defender.

LSU was considered a paper tiger for nearly a decade. It earned that. LSU is roaring now, finally proving the detractors wrong and is a legit national championship threat for the first time since 2011.

It earned that too.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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