OXFORD, Miss. – It didn’t take long, it was about as ugly as many expected it to be and there wasn’t anybody in purple-and-gold who didn’t contribute a little something Saturday night.
Now, LSU is two wins – two difficult wins – away from claiming a spot in the BCS Championship Game for the first time since 2007.
The top-ranked Tigers removed all doubt from the onset and never flinched, pummeling Ole Miss 52-3 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It was their most lopsided victory in the 100th meeting with the Rebels, eclipsing a 46-0 rout in 1901.
Seven different players scored touchdowns for LSU, which moved to 11-0 in the regular season for the first time in program history and 7-0 in the SEC for the first time ever.
Two of those scores came from the defense – Ron Brooks’ 46-yard interception return 28 seconds into the game and Kevin Minter’s fumble recovery in the end zone. Those were two of the Rebels’ three turnovers on a night when they managd only 195 total yards.
When the Tigers’ offense was on the field, Ole Miss (2-9, 0-7) had no solution.
LSU racked up 458 total yards, a season-best 353 on the ground, as five different backs rushed for 50 yards or more and the Tigers didn’t throw an incomplete pass in eight attempts.
Anchored by the grind-it-out rushing attack ( 7 yards a carry) – with an occasional bolt of lightning – LSU racked up touchdown drives of 86, 95, 80 and 74 yards.
The Tigers pounced in top 21-0 in the first quarter, with Brooks’ pick-six lighting the fuse.
The Rebels punted on their second possession, which finally got the LSU offense on the field under the direction of Jordan Jefferson as the starter for the second week in a row.
Jefferson immediately sparked the Tigers, rolling right on a play-action fake and zipping a 22-yard laser to Rueben Randle. Three plays later Jefferson escaped from pressure and rambled 19 yards to convert a third down and move LSU into Ole Miss territory.
|Jefferson got his second straight start, ran for 26 yards and threw for 88 and a touchdown|
The next five plays typified the night for the Tigers, with a mix of everybody doing what he does well.
Spencer Ware bulled for 5 yards, Michael Ford gashed the Rebels for 16 on an option pitch and Jefferson rolled the pocket on another play-action pass and whipped a 13-yard first-down completion to Odell Beckham on a crisply run drag route
That put LSU at the 6-yard-line. Another handoff to Ware got 5 yards and Kenny Hilliard trotted on for one of his patented 1-yard TD bursts for a 14-0 lead.
The Rebels did nothing on the first two plays of their third series, and on third down Brooks streaked around the end on a blitz, sacked Rebels quarterback Zack Stoudt from behind, jarred the ball loose and vaulted over Stoudt for the recovery.
Two plays later, Jefferson stood tall in the pocket and rifled a 22-yard touchdown pass to Russell Shepard with pressure coming for a 21-0 cushion.
After that, it was more or less LSU doing whatever it wanted to do.
The fourth TD came courtesy of Minter when Ole Miss backup quarterback Barry Brunetti botched a handoff from the Rebels’ 2-yard line one play after Mike Brockers buried him for a 12-yard loss on first down.
The Tigers got the ball back after another Ole Miss punt, this time pinned at their own 5.
Hilliard, Ford and Alfred Blue took turns peppering the Rebels on short runs until Ware bolted through the middle and found wide-open space for a 35-yard touchdown dash – the longest run of his career.
|Bennie Logan and Ryan Baker helped suffocate the Rebels offense to 195 total yards|
The Rebels got on the scoreboard right before halftime on Bryson Rose’s 39-yard field goal, which was set up by Brunetti’s dazzling 47-yard scamper, a play accounted for nearly a fourth of Ole Miss’ total yardage.
And that was about the last bit of glory Ole Miss got to savor.
LSU’s two third-quarter series both reached the end zone: Michael Ford on a 19-yard run and senior fullback James Stampley from a yard away on his third try. Those were the first three carries of Stampley’s career and he scored after he and Lee nearly lost a fumble on fourth-and-inches from pay dirt.
The Tigers tacked on Drew Alleman’s 29-yrd field goal in the fourth quarter and nearly scored again late in the game when third-string QB Zach Mettenberger darted 25 yards on a naked bootleg sweep and was knocked out of bounds inches away from the goal line.
From there, LSU coach Les Miles had the third-string QB take a knee four times to avoid running up the score.
Now the Tigers prepare for their second massive game in the last four weeks as No. 6-ranked Arkansas (10-1, 6-1) visits Baton Rouge for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on Friday.
The Razorbacks are tied with Alabama a game behind LSU in the SEC West. If they upset the Tigers, it could force a three-way tie for the division crown and the BCS standings will determine which of the three teams would get to the BCS Championship Game against Georgia on Dec. 3.