The Tigers turned to Brandon Harris midway through the second quarter, and he provided the spark LSU needed. He took over with a 14-0 lead on the Tigers’ eighth possession of the game and promptly led LSU on seven consecutive touchdown drives.
Harris finished the night 11-for-14 with 178 yards passing and three touchdowns. He also had 36 rushing yards and two more scores.
That was a complete turnaround from the offensive ineptitude LSU displayed with Anthony Jennings under center.
Jennings turned the ball over three times — one fumble, two interceptions — on the Tigers’ first four possessions. The only offensive touchdown scored with him at quarterback came on a five-play, 40-yard drive that featured four runs and only one pass.
The defense spotted him a 14-point lead with a pick six by Kendell Beckwith that landed in his arms after deflecting off the helmet of a New Mexico State offensive lineman.
But LSU continued to struggle offensively, with a fumble by Kenny Hilliard and a three-and-out around that defensive score. That ultimately led to Harris, and the offense finally found its stride.
The Tigers ran the ball 10 times on Harris’ first drive, an 11-play series capped off by a 17-yard touchdown run by Leonard Fournette. LSU let Harris throw it a bit more on the next possession. He completed a 22-yard pass to Travin Dural on the first play, and after a 13-yard run by Darrel Williams, Harris connected with Malachi Dupre for a 27-yard touchdown.
Harris had even more success on his third drive. A pitched forward pass to Fournette on the first play went 33 yards. He completed a bubble screen to Dupre for 22 yards on the next, and then kept a read option for 10 more to put the Tigers five yards from the endzone.
After an incompletion, Fournette barreled in for his second score of the night. He finished with a career-high 122 rushing yards on 18 attempts.
The Tigers would tack on one more score before halftime, set up by NMU’s third turnover of the half. Jalen Mills recovered a fumble forced by Davon Godchaux and returned it to the Aggies’ three-yard line.
Harris found fullback Melvin Jones on the first play for his second touchdown pass of the game, putting LSU ahead 42-7 at halftime.
The only first half blemish for the LSU defense came on a 79-yard touchdown run by NMSU QB Andrew Allen. Excluding that play, the Tiger defense held NMSU to 117 yards on 50 plays with three turnovers in the first half. The Aggies finished with only 274 total yards of offense on 70 plays.
The second half started much like the end of the first — with a Harris-led touchdown drive. All but one of the Tigers’ eight plays on that 75-yard drive picked up at least 10 yards. Harris capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dural on a bubble screen.
The next two possessions had the same results. Harris capped off a 10-play, 74-yard touchdown drive with a one-yard sneak. Then on the next, he led the Tigers 65 yards on six plays and took it in from two yards, scrambling left and barreling over a tackler to reach pay dirt.
That was his fifth touchdown of the night — three passing, two rushing.