How 2022 Tennessee stacks up to 2019 LSU national champs

No. 3 Tennessee is in the middle of a magical run. As the team basks in the glow of its victory over  Alabama, a SEC Network commentator sees parallels between the Volunteers and perhaps the best college offense of all time, LSU in 2019.

People were quick to pump the brakes on the comparison Peter Burns made to LSU’s highly decorated 2019 team that went 15-0 and won the national championship. The Tigers were led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow and Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

As preposterous as it sounds, there are similarities. The Volunteers are 6-0 and led by the most explosive offense in college football. QB Hendon Hooker — like Burrow in 2019 — was a long shot to win the Heisman prior to the season. Both quarterbacks’ play vaulted them toward the top of the conversation.

LSU averaged 48.4 points in its magical season. Tennessee is averaging 47.7 points. LSU led the nation with an average of 568.4 yards on offense, just as Tennessee (551 yards) does this season. 

The biggest common thread between the two is the unexpected leap both offenses made to become the best in football. LSU averaged 402.1 yards per game in 2018 while Tennessee (despite having a top-10 offense in 2021) trailed SEC peers Mississippi and Alabama in averaging 474.9 yards.

If it’s a question of which team would win in a hypothetical game, the answer is clearly the 2019 LSU team. 

Besides its prolific offense, LSU has a terrific defense with studs such as safety Grant Delpit and linebacker Patrick Queen. The Vols’ defense isn’t nearly as intimidating, allowing more than 400 yards per game.

Per ESPN’s Football Power Index, LSU’s 30.3 expected point margin against an average opponent on a neutral field outpaces Tennessee’s expected margin (20.2).

So, while Tennessee is not as good as that 2019 LSU team, it doesn’t have to be. It’s 2022, and these Volunteers have been good enough.

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