In the history of the Southeastern Conference, there were 14 winners of the Heisman Trophy. But thanks to the best passing season in conference history, 2019 gave college football fans the SEC’s 15th winner, and he’s going to live forever.
In his second season with the team, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was nothing short of legendary, leading the team to a College Football Playoff berth and chance at the program’s third National Championship. Now, he’s going to do it as the Heisman Trophy winner.
Joe Burrow Wins Heisman Trophy
Overall, Burrow’s outstanding senior season was nothing short of unexpected after an average 2018 season in Baton Rouge. Guys like Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson were expected to dominate this season, but it was Burrow who took the country by storm.
Born in Ames, Iowa, Burrow was a four-star recruit who played at Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio. Out of high school, he chose to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes, but after three seasons and 39 pass attempts, decided to transfer to Louisiana State University.
During the 2018 season, Burrow passed for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns, and five interceptions while leading LSU to a 10-3 record. He flashed greatness, but never really showed signs of being a record-breaking quarterback, not just in the SEC, but on the national level.
This season, Burrow became one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the conference and heard his name called at the 2019 Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York, becoming the second Heisman winner in school history after Billy Cannon in 1959.
Through 13 games, Burrow passed for 4,715 yards, 48 passing touchdowns and just six interceptions. Not only are those numbers extremely impressive because LSU doesn’t run an air raid offense in which he attempts over 50 passes per game, it came against some of the best competition in the country in the SEC West.
Burrow set conference and school records for passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage.
The number I am most impressed with from Burrow is his completion percentage at 77.9 percent, over a full percent higher than the NCAA single-season record by Colt McCoy (76.7%) in 2008. That comes from a combination of offensive play-calling, receivers getting open and rarely dropping passes, and the precision passing of an extremely talented quarterback.
His numbers weren’t just padded by poor competition either. Against conference opponents, Burrow completed 77.2 percent of his passes and averaged 361 yards and 3.5 touchdowns per game. Against Alabama, he completed 31 of his 39 attempts for 393 passing yards and three touchdown passes and also had 64 rushing yards.
Joe Burrow’s Records and Awards in 2019
AP National Player of the Year (AP)
Walter Camp Award
Davey O’Brien Award
Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award
First-Team All-American (Walter Camp)
SEC Offensive Player of the Year (AP, unanimous)
All-SEC First Team (AP, unanimous; Coaches)
SEC Championship Game MVPAdvertisement
LSU School Records
Passing yards (4,715) — SEC record
Passing TDs (48) — SEC record
Passing yards per game (362.7)
Total offense (5,004) — 112 yards from SEC record
Total offense per game (384.9)
In the SEC Championship game, he had one of his worst games as far as completing passes, finishing with a percentage of 73.7; Just think about that. Only one other quarterback in the country reached that mark this season — Tyler Huntley of Utah. In that game, Burrow went 28-of-38 for 349 yards and four touchdowns in a blowout of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Of the 13 games this season, he completed at least 74 percent of his passes nine times. Vanderbilt, Utah State, Texas A&M, and Georgia were the only teams to hold him below that mark with Utah State forcing the lowest at 71.1 percent.
He also performed really well against LSU’s toughest non-conference opponent when they faced off against the Texas Longhorns in the second game of the season. He completed 31-of-39 attempts for 471 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
Joe Burrow Highlights
After his great regular season and conference championship performance, it’s expected that Burrow will be one of the top picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Even if he struggles when LSU faces fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma Sooners in the College Football Playoff semifinal’s Peach Bowl, it is unlikely Burrow would slide.
Without a doubt, this has been the best passing seasons in SEC history. The only quarterbacks to have an argument for a better season at the position are Tim Tebow at Florida (2007) and Cam Newton at Auburn (2010). Those two guys ran the ball much more efficiently, each finishing with over 20 rushing touchdowns in those seasons.
No one threw it like Joey Burreaux, though.
If Burrow leads the Tigers to the College Football Playoff National Championship after beating out Hurts, and the Ohio State duo of defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields for the Heisman, Burrow may have a serious argument for the best season by a quarterback in SEC history.
People will even be able to argue that Burrow had one of the greatest seasons in NCAA history, too.