BATON ROUGE, La. — Texas A&M linebacker Anthony Hines stood at the postgame podium with the look of a man deciding whether he wanted to scream in rage or burst out in tears.
A&M dropped its regular season finale to No. 1 LSU 50-7 on Saturday night at Tiger Stadium, miles from the near miss the Aggies put together a week prior in a 19-13 loss at No. 4 Georgia. The Aggies lost games to top 10 teams Clemson, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia this season, but Saturday’s blowout ranked first on Hines’ list of frustrating finishes.
“I’ve never been a part of a loss like this,” Hines said behind moisture-glistened eyes. “The outcome was nothing like what I or my teammates expected.”
The Aggies (7-5, 4-4) were expecting the Tigers (12-0, 8-0) to be out for revenge over A&M’s come-from-behind, seven-overtime 74-72 win at Kyle Field last season. LSU players and coaches alike spent the week hyping their chance for justice.
“It’s going to be on,” LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron told reporters immediately after the Tigers’ win over Arkansas last week.
Riding the emotional high of Senior Night, LSU delivered on its promise.
The Tigers scored on their first five drives, including touchdowns on the first four — all this while the Aggies mustered just 19 total yards of offense. For the entire first half, A&M took just three offensive snaps on LSU’s side of the field.
“This isn’t us,” Hines said. “To be a part of this loss, it definitely hurts, and I know my teammates are hurting as well.”
The epicenter of LSU’s success Saturday came from the same location it has throughout its perfect regular season: quarterback Joe Burrow. The Heisman Trophy front-runner completed 23 of 32 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns. As a tip of the cap to his new-found Cajun family, the Ohio State transfer wore a jersey with a nameplate that read “Burreaux” during the pregame Senior Night ceremony. Orgeron used a timeout in the third quarter to remove the senior from the game and give the LSU faithful a chance to return their gratitude. They did with rousing chants of his name as he jogged off the field in Death Valley for the final time.
Burrow also claimed the SEC single-season passing yards record with an 11-yard pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the third quarter, moving past former Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch’s 4,275 set in 1998. Burrow finished the game with 4,366 yards for the season.
Late in the first half, A&M’s total of 24 yards matched Burrow’s 24 yards rushing.
At SEC Media Days in July, A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond claimed he was the best quarterback the conference had to offer. After what could be Burrow’s defining Heisman game, Mond bestowed the honor on his opponent.
“He’s a really good quarterback,” Mond said. “He’s one of the top in the country if not the best. Just being able to keep time in the pocket and make plays also is something really big, and they use him in the offense really well.”
Mond, by contrast, posted his career low in passing yards as a starter with 92, completing 10 of 30 passes and throwing three interceptions. Mond said there was confusion between him and his receivers on several plays, which made life even harder as LSU defenders barreled down on him in the pocket.
“We didn’t do good enough on getting separation and giving Kellen enough time to make some plays,” A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He was harassed all night.”
While LSU managed two additional touchdowns and a safety in the second half, the Aggies mustered one score on a 1-yard run by running back Isaiah Spiller. A 45-yard pass from Mond to Spiller out of the backfield three plays earlier set the table for the score.
Spiller finished as the Aggies’ leading rusher with 72 yards, followed by punter Braden Mann, who successfully executed a fake punt for a 15-yard gain.
LSU outgained A&M 553-169 in offensive yards. It was the Aggies’ lowest total since Nov. 8, 2003, when Oklahoma held them to 54 total yards in a 77-0 drubbing in Norman, Oklahoma.
“The defense sent a message to the country, because they have been criticized for the last half of the season and that’s what they were talking about all week,” Burrow said. “They wanted to make a statement. I know they have worked so hard for it this week, and they will continue to do it.”
A&M finishes the regular season with a 7-5 record, foregoing a chance to tie last season’s nine-game win total. While the Aggies had seen improvements on the field in previous weeks, linebacker Buddy Johnson said Saturday disrupted that momentum.
“We were climbing the ladder, and we fell down the ladder,” Johnson said. “It’s a big lesson for us to learn. We’ve just got to learn how to finish.”