HOUSTON — Trailing by 17 early in the second half, No. 13 LSU needed something — anything — to go their way.
The Tigers had mostly been dominated by No. 14 Wisconsin and faced a fourth down near midfield. It had been nearly 20 minutes of game-time since LSU had last scored, and the Tigers refused to settle for another failed possession.
That’s when Les Miles reached into his infamous bag of tricks.
The Tigers lined up in what seemed to be just another punt formation, but that was the only ordinary part about it. Reid Ferguson’s snap went directly to linebacker Kendell Beckwith. The high school quarterback needed four yards for the first down.
He picked up five.
“We felt like we had to make a play,” Miles said. “The momentum change at that point was significant. Our guys started feeling it, and our opponent realized that we’re not going anywhere. They were going to have to play until the bitter end.”
On the next play, Anthony Jennings connected with Travin Dural for a 44-yard completion that put the Tigers within eight yards of the end zone. The drive stalled there though, resulting in a field goal.
Some may discount the fake punt’s importance because that drive only resulted in three points. But what that play provided can’t be quantified. But what it did provide was a much-needed confidence boost.
“It got our juices flowing,” said D.J. Welter. “It got us flying around as a defense, trying to get the ball back in the offense’s hands so we could score some points.”
And that’s exactly what the Tigers did. LSU rode that momentum, scoring on each of its next three possessions. The third gave the Tigers their first lead of the game — and the victory.
That fake was also a tremendous way for new special teams coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto to reintroduce himself to the LSU faithful. The players said he’d coached them up on that play throughout the week, but even they didn’t see it coming.
“I was surprised myself,” said John Diarse. “But Coach [Peveto] couldn’t have picked a better time to run it.”
He ran it when LSU needed it most. Had it backfired, the Tigers might have fallen into an even deeper hole. But it didn’t, and this victory’s tale can’t be told without that fake punt.
MILES' MAGIC SHIFTED LSU'S MOMENTUM
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