ATLANTA — No. 2 LSU had a lot on its mind Saturday night inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In addition to ensuring it won the SEC Championship Game to capture its first league crown since 2011, finish the 2019 season undefeated and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff, the Tigers wanted to make a statement to those that demoted them from the No. 1 ranking they held for a large part of the season. Statement made.LSU ran through No. 4 Georgia 37-10 on Saturday night, taking advantage of the injured Bulldogs by striking fast offensively while holding the SEC East champions to three points through three quarters. The Dawgs added a touchdown late but were unable to consistently stop a Tigers offense that is as impressive as any nationally.Star quarterback Joe Burrow was spectacular, completing 28-of-38 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 41 yards — more than any Georgia player — and caught his own batted pass before hauling his way to the sideline for a first down. The Heisman Trophy front-runner had his “Heisman moment” late in the third quarter when he spun out of a Georgia blitz, evaded even more pressure, rolled to his right and found Justin Jefferson for 71 yards down to the Georgia 9-yard line. That drive culminated with a 4-yard touchdown strike to Terrace Marshall.Georgia’s offense struggled all night. Quarterback Jake Fromm continued his lackluster season by completing just 20-of-42 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions to LSU freshman cornerback Derek Stingley. The first came late in the opening quarter down the left sideline after Fromm returned from an ankle injury. Then, with the score 27-3 late in the third quarter, he telegraphed a pass that Stingley jumped and set up the Tigers’ final touchdown of the frame.Whether LSU ends up the No. 1 team in the nation in the final College Football Playoff Rankings on Sunday remains to be seen. However, despite the blowout loss, Georgia is expected to remain ahead of Florida as the top-ranked SEC team not in the playoff, according to CBS Sports bowl expert Jerry Palm. That would put the Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl, likely against Big 12 runner-up Baylor.Here are the biggest takeaways from the Tigers’ triumph.It’s not just Burrow: LSU’s weapons outside — Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase — are two of the best receivers in the country. But can we give a little love to the little man? Yes, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is little … but he packs a mean punch.The 5-foot-8 (that might be generous) junior from Baton Rouge rushed for 57 yards, caught seven passes for 61 yards and was the unsung hero for the Tigers on Saturday — just as he has been all season. This was his first year as the true No. 1 running back, and the 209-pounder took it personally that he had doubters.”I wanted to show everybody who I could be coming into the season,” he said. “I’m doing it for myself, my team, my city and the state of Louisiana. We want to show that this is a family, and that we are tough.”He runs like a bowling ball and provides balance for the best offense in the country.Defense peaking: LSU’s defense has been porous for most of the season, but things have changed of late. It gave up just 2.86 yards per play to the Bulldogs on Saturday, which comes on the heels of the 2.82 the Tigers gave up to Texas A&M last week and the 4.28 they allowed Arkansas to gain the week prior. Stingley was the star on Saturday, intercepting two of Fromm’s passes and playing lockdown coverage on Georgia’s receivers all night. He needs to play at that level moving forward because it’s likely that all of LSU’s potential College Football Playoff opponents will be able to air it out.It took a while, but Dave Aranda’s defense found its stride when it mattered most. It’s now leaping into the CFP with enough confidence to fill Death Valley.Kirby Smart needs to look in the mirror: This isn’t working. Not even a little bit. Sure, Georgia has three straight SEC East titles and has played in the SEC Championship Game with CFP berths on the line in each of those seasons, but that’s all this Georgia team will be unless its head coach changes things — fast. Every time Georgia has played fast on offense this year, it has clicked. It happened late in the first half of the win over Notre Dame, at the same point in the win at Auburn and early in the second quarter against LSU on Saturday. It only did it for four plays, though. An LSU injury slowed things up and the Bulldogs offense stalled. What looked like a promising drive ended with a field goal. That tempo didn’t re-appear until it was too late. Georgia should be LSU. The talent on the roster and in the high school ranks is comparable to that of the best in the country. Smart needs to find his Joe Brady — the passing game coordinator who revolutionized LSU’s offense. If he does, Fromm can make this work at an elite level.Four years in, it looks like Smart is unwilling to do so. LSU stakes its claim to be No. 1: The selection committee has some decisions to make before the field is set, and LSU gave it plenty to think about during its deliberations.This offense put up 481 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per play. It sliced and diced Georgia all day long, and Smart’s Bulldogs had no answer. The Tigers take the fight to every team they pla, and have done it since toe met leather in the season-opener. They’ve done it despite a brutal schedule that has included Alabama, Auburn and Florida in addition to Georgia. Those are all likely to be top-12 wins once the final rankings come out on Sunday. LSU checks every box, and we will find out tomorrow if it checks in at the top of the list heading into the postseason.

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