NEW ORLEANS – Just as the LSU football team appears back for the first time since he left, former Tigers’ superstar quarterback Joe Burrow will return to the site of his greatest victory – the Louisiana Superdome here Sunday.
Burrow, who led the Tigers to the national championship in the 2019 season with a Ruthian 60 touchdown passes and won the Heisman Trophy, will return to the dome for the first time since LSU beat Clemson, 42-25, for the national crown on Jan. 13, 2020.
Kickoff between Burrow’s Cincinnat Bengals (2-3) and the New Orleans Saints (2-3) will be at 1 p.m. on CBS.
“It’s a place that a lot of good memories were made,” Burrow said this week. “So, I’m excited to go back, excited to see all the fans that supported me. It was a great night for our team, and for the guys that had been there. But they’re not going to be cheering for us this time.”
Burrow, who was the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft and first LSU Heisman winner since Billy Cannon in 1959, may be surprised. Many fans may still pull for him and his Bengals teammates who are former Tigers in the dome.
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And LSU gymnast and Name, Image and Likeness superstar Olivia Dunne, a Burrow admirer and fan, is expected to be in attendance cheering him on.
Also on the Bengals from that 15-0 LSU team in 2019-20 are wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, a New Orleans area native who was the fifth pick of the 2021 draft, and defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, a Lafayette area native who is on the practice squad. Another former Tiger now a Bengal is offensive tackle La’el Collins, a Baton Rouge native whose last season at LSU was in 2014.
“I can definitely understand Ja’Marr a lot better than when I first got there,” said Burrow, who threw 20 touchdown passes in the 2019 season to Chase, who led the nation in that category that year. “His accent has got less thick since he arrived (in Cincinnati).”
An Athens, Ohio, native who was a graduate transfer to LSU in 2018 from Ohio State, Burrow bridged the language gap between Chase and the rest of the Bengals.
“When he first got here, I was sort of the translator for everybody,” Burrow said.
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New Orleans Saints players from LSU are wide receiver Jarvis Landry (2011-13) and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (2010-11), who each played in a national championship game loss in the Superdome to Alabama on Jan. 9, 2012.
Much has changed for LSU since that night they beat Clemson as Burrow smoked a victory cigar postgame in the dome, which was against the law.
“No, I didn’t get cited, but there were definitely cops in there ready to go,” Burrow said. “Cigars are kind of a celebratory thing. We had just won a national championship. We wanted to celebrate. One of our strength coaches had a cigar brand that he brought for us.”
No one was going to arrest Joe Burrow for that on that night.
LSU Fell Apart After Joe Burrow Left Following 2019 Season
The Tigers soon went up in smoke, though, falling to 5-5 the next season and to 6-7 in the 2021 season, and coach Ed Orgeron was fired. LSU hired Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly for $10 million a year last December. He got off to a slow start with an upset loss to unranked Florida State in the Superdome last Sept. 4 and fell 40-13 at home to Tennessee last week – the Tigers’ worst loss since a 55-17 defeat to Alabama in 2020.
But Saturday night, LSU won at The Swamp over Florida, 45-35, to improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. The Tigers can tie No. 9 Ole Miss (7-0, 3-0 SEC) for the SEC West lead Saturday with a home win over the Rebels (3:30 p.m., CBS).
Now Saints fans, most of whom are also LSU fans, hope to get their season back on track by getting to .500, which is what the Bengals will be trying to do.
“It’s a business trip,” Burrow said. “We’re going in to win a game. We’ve just got to put it all together through an entire game.”
Burrow may not have time to fully enjoy New Orleans, but he does carry something everywhere that reminds him of his iconic time in Louisiana – Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning from Opelousas.
“I do always have that on me for sure,” he said.