TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — "Dixieland Delight" was blaring through the speakers and a jam-packed Bryant-Denny Stadium was literally shaking as the state-of-the-art LED light system put on a show overhead.
LSU's 20-point halftime lead had been trimmed to six points, and the scene had to feel like something out of a recurring nightmare. Alabama was on the comeback trail, and LSU might never have seen the lead again if it punted the ball back one more time.
All the frustration and failures of eight long years of losing hung in the air like ghosts. But in the span of two drives, Joe Burrow and his offense exorcised all of those collective demons and kept LSU on track for both the SEC Championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Burrow led LSU on a pair of time-consuming, 75-yard touchdown marches to keep a surging Alabama offense at arm's length. No. 2 LSU got to experience the satisfaction of running out the clock to preserve a massive 46-41 win over No. 3 Alabama in an instant classic on Saturday evening.
LSU knocked off an Alabama team that hadn't lost at home since 2015, snapping a winning streak of 31 games. The 46 points were the most scored against the Crimson Tide since Nick Saban took over the program in 2007.
Burrow led the assault, completing 31 of 39 passes for 393 yards with three touchdowns. Those touchdown drives he engineered in the fourth quarter seem destined to go down as his Heisman Trophy moments.
Teammates loaded Burrow on their shoulders and carried him off the field near the end of a wild celebration. The progress wasn't lost on a group who were shutout in Tiger Stadium by Alabama team last fall.
"That was pretty special," Burrow said. "Having these guys embrace me the way they have, just some quarterback from Ohio who came in last June before the season, and the way they've embraced me — it means a lot the way they've embraced me, and the whole state as well."
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron threw his arms around family and friends in an avalanche of pure jubilation. Passing game coordinator Joe Brady put his arm around star receiver Ja'Marr Chase as they basked in the moment of what they'd just accomplished.
Another staffer sprinted down the middle of the field pumping his fist. "It's a new day in the (SEC) West!" he screamed. "It's a new (expletive) day in the West!"
Nobody in purple and gold even bothered to pretend beating Alabama was just another game on the schedule. It meant a lot for the program, the school and the state of Louisiana.
Orgeron told his team at the outset of the week that they were better than Alabama, and that they'd win the game if they handled their business. For LSU (9-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) to back up his claim only serves to further legitimize the program Orgeron is building in Baton Rouge.
"When I got on the plane coming here, I felt like we got it," Orgeron said. "We finally got the tools that we need, we finally got the players that we need, we finally got the coaching staff that we need to beat these guys … I felt like we had it, and obviously we had to go out and do it, but we did it."
LSU wouldn't have been able to do it without its superstar of a quarterback, especially once Alabama (8-1, 5-1) and its offense caught fire in the second half.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and running back Najee Harris led the Crimson Tide to 14 unanswered points in the second half. The second Harris touchdown cut the LSU lead to six points and set off a wild scene at Bryant-Denny Stadium early in the fourth quarter.
Nobody was surprised that Alabama made a comeback, especially once LSU let some chances to extend the lead slip through its fingers. But nobody freaked out, either. There was confidence in Burrow and his unit to score as many times as needed to win the game.
Burrow put the headset on before the pivotal drive. Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and Brady agreed that they wanted to put the game in Burrow's hands and let the chips fall where they may.
"There was no panic on the sideline," Burrow said. "I went around and told my guys we need to score twice to win the ballgame. That's exactly what we did."
Burrow converted two third-and-longs with clutch throws to Justin Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He converted another third down on a perfectly-called quarterback draw, which set up first-and-goal.
Edwards-Helaire broke free off a spin move and walked in for the touchdown one play later to cap the 12-play drive. He found the end zone again — his fourth total score of the game — on LSU's next drive once Alabama again cut the lead to a single possession.
The multi-talented back finished with 20 carries for 103 yards and three rushing touchdowns. He chipped in nine receptions for 77 yards and another score through the air. His final carry, a physical 10-yard run, allowed LSU to finish the game in the victory formation.
"Great night," Orgeron said of the Baton Rouge native.
The game couldn't have gotten off to a better start for LSU as the Tigers built an early 10-0 lead with the help of some self-inflicted wounds on the part of Alabama.
Tagovailoa marched Alabama down the field on the opening drive only to lose a fumble inside the LSU 10-yard line. LSU immediately cashed that mistake in for its first touchdown against the Crimson Tide since 2017, a 33-yard scoring strike from Burrow to Chase.
Alabama then botched a punt, setting LSU up in excellent field position to add on a field goal. An illegal substitution penalty called against Alabama erased what would've been a drive-killing interception thrown by Burrow.
An electrifying play in the return game vaulted Alabama right back into the game. Ace punt returner Jaylen Waddle shook off a blatant face mask by LSU gunner Racey McMath, somehow kept his balance and raced 77 yards for the touchdown. It briefly felt like a brand-new ballgame.
LSU came up with the kind of response that's typical of a championship-caliber team. Burrow silenced the crowd and methodically led LSU on an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Terrace Marshall was somehow left unguarded and hauled in the scoring strike from 29 yards out.
Alabama answered right back on a bomb from Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith, who got behind the defense for a 64-yard score.
The Crimson Tide then temporarily melted down from there as LSU scored 17 unanswered points off a litany of sloppy plays in the final 5 minutes of the first half. Edwards-Helaire scored two touchdowns separated by roughly 20 seconds of game clock.
LSU briefly appeared on the verge of blowing Alabama out. Instead the Tigers had to hang on for dear life in the second half, right down to an onside kick recovery in the game's final minutes. Jefferson jumped up and squeezed a bouncing ball that seemed to hang in the air for an eternity.
"It feels like a dream to come out here and beat Alabama on their own field," Jefferson added. "I definitely had to call God to make sure he had me on that onside kick."
And, according to Orgeron, it'll be the first of more wins to come in a rivalry that's been decidedly one-sided for the better part of a decade.
"We comin'," Orgeron said. "This won't be the last time. We're there, and we're going to continue to rise. We're going to continue to make progress in this program to bring a championship back to the state of Louisiana."
LSU is two wins away from clinching an SEC West title with Ole Miss, Arkansas and Texas A&M still on the schedule. A division crown would mean LSU's first appearance in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta since 2011.
With four top-10 wins, LSU has the inside track to unseat Ohio State for No. 1 once the CFP committee releases its second set of rankings this week. However you slice it, LSU is four wins from its first playoff appearance.
"The one thing I want to make sure everybody knows is this wasn't our goal this year," Burrow said. "We've got more goals ahead of us. We didn't go into the season saying we were going to beat Alabama. We've got more things ahead of us."