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, with one bit of history taken care of more within, LSU sure looks like a team ready to embrace destiny.
The top-ranked Tigers removed any and all doubt from the onset and then 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.
“Our football came here (Saturday) to get another conference victory, and they came here and played well,” Tigers’ coach Les Miles said. “Our defense played extremely sharply to start, The opportunity to score early in the game was kind of an indication of how this game went.”
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 managed only 195 total yards.
Brooks’ pick-six triggered a 21-0 LSU lead the first quarter expired and the Rebels (2-9, 0-7) were dead on their feet.
“You can’t start a game the way we started, especially against a team like them,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. “They’re the No. 1team in the nation; you can’t give them gifts. One thing we didn’t want to do is have turnovers, especially to them so that they could score points right off the bat.”
It only got worse when the Tigers’ offense was on the field because the Ole Miss defense 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, led by Alfred Blue’s 74 and 70 from Spencer Ware. The Tigers didn’t throw often and they didn’t miss, either, as Jordan Jefferson was 7-for-7 for 88 yards and Jarrett Lee hit his only throw for 17 yards.
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.
As impressive as the total package was, the first 15 minutes might well have been the Tigers’ best of the season.
They pounced on top 21-0, with Brooks’ pick-six on the third play of the game lighting the fuse.
The Rebels punted on their second possession, which finally got the LSU offense on the field, and 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.
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 the 21-0 cushion.
“I felt like our guys came in with an edge and a want for victory,” Miles said. “When you have that, it’s going to happen.”
After that, it was more or less LSU doing whatever it wanted to do.
The fourth touchdown 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 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: 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.
“He showed up here as an offensive guard, and we told him we needed a fullback,” Miles said. “He is a very team-oriented player. He said OK, and he learned it.
“He has never carried the ball. We have thrown him balls in practice and he asked what we were doing that for. We really tried to work on it and make him a receiver, and these were his first carries.”
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 appeared to check out of a play at the line of scrimmage and darted 25 yards on a naked bootleg sweep and was knocked out of bounds inches away from the goal line, although a television replay showed Mettenberger was in the end zone.
From there, Miles called a timeout and then had Mettenberger take a knee four times to avoid running up the score. Miles said with victory in hand he chose to take “the opportunity to be right.”
Now, after doing very little wrong, 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 will likely climb to No. 3 in the polls Sunday and are tied with Alabama, a game behind LSU in the SEC West.
If the Hogs 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.
Miles couldn’t contain a smile when he talked about how anxious he is to get his team ready for Arkansas.
“That’ll be an easy undertaking,” he said. “When you have a team that’s excited about preparing, we’ll get to Friday pretty fast. It will be one where our guys will enjoy preparing and be ready to play.”