TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Joe Burrrow sprinted toward the LSU fans to celebrate a monumental victory and moments later was hoisted on the shoulders of two beefy teammates.

They carried him only partway across the field. The ride isn’t finished for Burrow and No. 1 LSU, but the quarterback’s masterful performance Saturday in a 46-41 victory over nemesis and second-ranked Alabama marked a huge step toward the Tigers’ championship goals.

Burrow passed for 393 yards and three touchdowns, answered challenge after challenge and helped end the eight-year string of futility that started with the national title game in January 2012. Now, LSU’s sights are set on another shot at national and SEC championships.

Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said that for the first time he told his players pre-Alabama, “You’re the better team.”

“We’ve finally got the tools that we need to beat those guys,” Orgeron said. “To have a championship team, you’ve got to have a championship quarterback.”

The Tigers (9-0, 5-0) are no longer second fiddle in the SEC West, or maybe in the playoff rankings. And Burrow stamped himself as the Heisman Trophy front-runner with a gutty performance when he answered every challenge from Alabama.

And the challenges were plentiful.

“I knew they were going to come back,” Burrow said. “That’s Alabama on the other side, dynasty. I was really happy with the way we responded.”

The Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1) rallied from a 33-13 halftime deficit to pull within a touchdown three times in the fourth quarter. It kept going from game seemingly over to game on.

The showdown lived up to its billing as a duel between two high-powered offenses and star quarterbacks with President Trump attending.

Alabama’s last gasp saw Tua Tagovailoa launch an 85-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith with 1:21 left. But Justin Jefferson recovered the onside kick and LSU ran out the clock.

Tagovailoa, 20 days removed from ankle surgery, was 21 of 40 for 418 yards and four touchdowns with an interception and a fumble. He was called a “game-time decision” all week, looked shaky early and appeared to be limping after the game, but he kept Alabama in it.

Smith had 213 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches for Alabama. Antioch High alum Najee Harris, who didn’t have a carry in the second quarter, finished with 146 rushing yards and a touchdown and added a receiving score.

For LSU, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 103 yards on 20 carries and had nine catches for 77 yards. Burrow completed 31 of 39 passes and ran for 64 yards.

Burrow said titles are what he was after when he transferred to LSU from Ohio State.

“We’re not done yet,” the two-year starter said. “It’s Game 9. We’ve got three more regular-season ones and the SEC championship. This was never our goal. We’ve got bigger goals than this.”

John Zenor is an Associated Press writer.