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LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) drops back to pass in a fast paced game against the Utah State Aggies at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, October 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Lake Charles American Press, Kirk Meche)

LSU might argue that quarterback Joe Burrow had his breakout over the latter half of last year.

It got some play in Louisiana.

But nationally, this year he has had one of the more remarkable coming-out parties of the season.

Over the summer Las Vegas did list Burrow's odds of winning the Heisman Trophy at 400-1, which is basically saying he might get a participation ribbon.

All of that changed the second week of the season at Texas when Burrow's 471 yards passing and four touchdown passes led the Tigers to a thrilling 45-38 victory and introduced him to the nation.

He and LSU's new offense haven't slowed down since. Today you'll find Burrow, a three-time Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, first or second in most of the NCAA passing statistics.

Suddenly his name is popping up in the first round of the way too early NFL draft projections for next spring.

Even head coach Ed Orgeron admits the Tigers got a lot more than they could have hoped for when Burrow transferred during the summer before last season from Ohio State.

"Not really," he said when asked if he saw this kind of season coming from Burrow. "We just wanted a good quarterback. We just wanted somebody to throw the ball, run the offense. But the thing that I was most impressed with is his intelligence and toughness. We felt that once he took over the team, we saw him progress and I think he made a lot of progress last year."

"Once we saw him in the spring, I felt that he was going to have a tremendous year."

Oh, by the way. Those Heisman odds have been updated. According to the website betonline, Burrow was at 3-1 odds to win the big prize, which trails only Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa who's still the odds-on favorite at 2-3.

Burrow has noticed. Sort of.

"It was a goal when I was little," he said of the Heisman. "Not so much a goal now. I'd rather have a big, fat ring on my hand (but) it does cross your mind."

Saturday night could go a long way for both individual and team goals when No. 7 Florida (6-0, 3-0 SEC) and its tough defense visits Tiger Stadium.

"Games like this are the kind of games you need to get there and to get where we need to be as a team," Burrow said.

Translation: Numbers are nice, but it's performances in big nationally televised games like Saturday that make the difference. Against Texas it wasn't so much the 471 yards that stood out, but clutch play after clutch play, most notably the third-and-17 pass completion for a 61-yard touchdown that iced the victory.

Saturday will be another big stage, under the lights in a much-anticipated game on national television.

"The real season starts now," Burrow said. "We're in SEC play. Those first five games were nice, kind of got our confidence going. But this is when the big-boy football is played."

Florida, as unbeaten as No. 5 LSU (5-0, 1-0) is, brings the SEC's No. 1 scoring defense to Tiger Stadium, and the Gators are No. 2 in total defense and pass defense.

"They're the best defense we've played and it's not even close," Burrow said. "They have first-round guys all around the field. They play really hard. They're confident in their scheme — you can tell by how fast they play. It's going to be really good challenge for us."

Burrow said he doesn't have pleasant memories of the Gators — Florida's 27-19 victory over the Tigers last year in Gainesville was a rough day for him. He was 19 of 34 for 191 yards, but threw two interceptions — one a pick-six — and was sacked five times.

"Last year was last year," Burrow said. "Did they beat us? Yes. Could we have won? Yes.

"We had chances to win that game. We had chances to put them away early and we didn't do it and then we let them hang in there, hang in there, and they ended up beating us. We're going to have to keep firing the whole game.

"I think we're way better than we were last year and they're way better too."

LSU, of course, is way different, too, as Burrow comes armed with the Tigers' newfound wide-open, up-tempo offense that's he's much more comfortable in.

But for all the oohs and aahs of the departure from the staid old tactics, Burrow is only throwing three more passes per game than last year — while completed eight more for 150 more yards and an average of three more touchdown passes per game.

But the change was as much philosophical, Burrow said, with the Tigers attacking the whole field.

"We needed to make the change," he said "We weren't going to compete for SEC titles, national championships, if we didn't make that change.

"I think it's a credit to our maturity, a credit to Coach O, to (offensive coordinator) coach (Steve) Ensminger, to (passing game coordinator) coach Joe (Brady)."

The week following the loss to the Gators, LSU returned home to upset No. 2 Georgia 36-16.

That may have been the day the Tigers became Burrow's team.

"I think that was kind of the beginning of myself getting engaged in what we're doing and being involved in the game plan," Burrow said. "They trust me enough to put my ideas into the game plan, they trust me enough to make checks at the line.

"I've kind of evolved into a line-of-scrimmage quarterback in that way."

Whether he evolves into a Heisman winner probably depends on how far his Tigers go, beginning Saturday.

"I do know we have a winning quarterback," Orgeron said. "Let's see what happens."

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