LSU football faced a huge task on Saturday night. The Tigers came into the day underdogs for the first time this season, at home no less. The pain of a Week 1 loss to Florida State was still looming large in Baton Rouge with a surging Mississippi State team—knocking on the door of the AP Top 25—coming into town. The Bayou Bengals needed to make a statement in the opening game of Southeastern Conference play if they wanted to be taken seriously.
The talk leading up to the 5 p.m. kickoff focused on the lethal Bulldogs offense. Mike Leach’s men averaged 44 points per game in their first two wins of the season over Memphis and Arizona. Meanwhile, besides the Seminoles’ loss, LSU had just beaten an FCS squad in Southern. Few people knew what to expect from the contest, and it was indeed a tale of two halves. The Tigers emerged victorious on the evening, winning the game by 31-16.
The first half presented home fans with a lot of frustrations. LSU’s third different offensive line of the season—this one younger than its predecessors—struggled to cope early. Mike Denbrock’s offense couldn’t get anything on the ground, and costly penalties killed any early momentum that Jayden Daniels and Co. had built.
It seemed depressingly reminiscent of the first three quarters against Florida State. The Tigers could do nothing right, and their opponents had their way with them. LSU found itself down 13-0, possibly going into the half down two scores looming large.
However, Daniels again stepped up to the theoretical plate in crunch time. He led the Tigers down the field with under a minute left and found Jaray Jenkins on the goal line to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to six. There was a particular pep in LSU’s step from there on out.
A couple of tremendous stops from Matt House’s defense on either side of the half kept the momentum with the Bayou Bengals. Daniels marched his team down the field again to cut the lead in half with a field goal before Mississippi State answered with a kick of its own. Little did everybody inside Tiger Stadium know, that this would be the last time the Bulldogs would muster up any points on the night.
Things finally began to click for LSU’s offense in the fourth quarter, just like they did two weekends ago in the Caesars Superdome.
Daniels began connecting with his receivers—notably Malik Nabers, who came through with multiple huge thirds down conversions—the running backs began to hit the holes, and LSU was moving the ball effectively. Three fourth-quarter touchdown runs from Daniels, Josh Williams, and Armoni Goodwin sealed the deal as the Tigers completed the comeback.
It wasn’t only the offense that kept LSU alive, either. The Tigers’ defense was incredible throughout the entirety of the contest. Rogers came into the game leading the SEC in almost every category for quarterbacks and was contained for much of the evening. He finished 24-for-42 passing with 214 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Huge credit goes out to every individual on the defensive side of the ball, but players like Harold Perkins, BJ Ojulari, and Jay Ward deserve a lot of credit for their gritty performances. Daniels, Goodwin, Nabers, and John Emery Jr. were fantastic on the offensive side of things.
It was far from perfect from LSU. However, it counts all the same. The Tigers improve to 2-1 (1-0 in the SEC) on the season, with New Mexico coming to town next Saturday night. If everything goes according to plan, the Bayou Bengals will be 3-1 when they travel to Auburn.