LSU walked away from Arizona with what they wanted; a win and all that comes with it. This game wasn’t about the mistakes. LSU took risks and played aggressive and it was for the best even when things like a 93-yard pick six return would happen. We made the plays we needed to make to walk into the offseason with a 10-win season, an NY6 bowl win, and a lot to expect in 2019.
From the opening kickoff (Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 77-yard return) to the final whistle (that onside-kick that bounced around too long) this game was an excitement. Both teams left it on the field and it made for great football. Every mistake was punished, and big plays swayed the momentum.
Hats off to our defense for holding down UCF’s offense when so many of our original starters couldn’t be on the field. With two ex-wide receivers playing cornerback and names that rarely see the field playing defensive back/safety we miraculously held them below 100 yards in the air. We showed a lot of toughness and our next-man up mentality paid-off big time. It didn’t start with the DB’s though. Our linebackers were hands down the MVP’s of this game. Patrick Queen and Devin White especially. Our healthy group of linebackers showed the veteran leadership our patchwork defense needed. If we hadn’t shown as much aggression up front it would have been a different game. Our five sacks (2 of which belonged to Rashard Lawrence who had an other-worldly game) were our biggest highlight on defense.
Another noteworthy performance was that of Joe Burrow. He let the ball fly like he never had or been allowed to and ended the game with a career-high 394 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. LSU only relied on their run game in certain situations to get them a first down or to make it manageable, but we punched it in the end-zone with our passing game.
To wrap things up I want to give a paragraph to commend Nick Brossette for being the story we all wanted to hear. A senior who’s beat it out at LSU for four years under the likes of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice finally gets his chance to prove himself as an LSU running back when he could have easily transferred to another good school and proves everybody wrong. I wish I could dedicate more than this measly paragraph to him (and maybe I will) for how he represented our team this year. I watched him sit and learn behind stars itching to play and now I’ve watched him run for touchdowns and chase down an incredible 1,000 yards. From his breakout against Miami he’s been chugging for LSU. He was the player that kept pounding against Florida and Alabama. Nick Brossette was the player we needed in our up and coming year. His story is one that teaches patience and character. We all wish him the best through the years to come whether it be on or off the field.
All in all, this bowl was a very significant one with a lot of emotions mixed into it. Winning it like we did mattered a lot to me and the rest of Tiger nation. From day one this LSU football team was out to prove themselves and they’ve screwed the cap on the bottle of all that’s happened this season which we’ll be talking about for a long time.