How it Happened
A lot of defense from LSU. The Tigers limited Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to just 38 total yards of offense after sacking him five times in the first half alone. Dave Aranda's defense was in fine form for the entire first half. LSU's offense meanwhile started off with a big play from Danny Etling to wide receiver Malachi Dupre for 36 yards to the Louisville 37, but that drive fizzled and LSU missed a field goal. After that, LSU was able to finish a couple drives for touchdowns with touchdowns from Etling to tight end Colin Jeter and running back Derrius Guice to build a 14-3 lead. Guice managed just 47 yards on 17 carries in the first half. Towards the end of the first half, LSU continued to put pressure on Jackson with Arden Key sacking him for a safety to move within one sack of tying the school record. LSU couldn't take advantage after that with Etling throwing an interception late in the half while trying to throw the ball away. Louisville couldn't move the ball and settled for a field goal to leave it at 16-6 at the half with the Tigers leading the way.
In the second half, it was even more dominant. Jackson was able to put together more offense, but overall, LSU rolled through the Cardinals. Dupre and Guice both totaled over 130 yards each in receiving and rushing respectively with Guice tallying a 70-yard touchdown in the second half that pumped up his 138 yards in the game. LSU held the ball for over 35 minutes as the team milked the clock out after a Duke Riley fumble recovery. Riley wore No. 4 in honor of former NFL and John Curtis HS star Joe McKnight, who was killed earlier in December. LSU cruised to a 29-9 victory after outscoring the Cardinals 13-3 in the second half.
What it Means
The Tigers now have a ton of momentum to build off of going into the offseason under Orgeron. Aranda earned every penny and the Tigers used a grind-it-out offense to finish with close to 400 total yards of offense. In Steve Ensminger's final game as offensive coordinator, there's certainly a lot to build off of. Dupre certainly helped his NFL Draft stock if he chooses to declare early with seven catches for 193 yards. Jamal Adams also had six tackles, one for loss and a pass breakup on the day — another potential early departure for LSU.
Player of the Game: Duke Riley
The senior linebacker lead LSU with eight tackles, a quarterback hurry and that fumble recovery. For Riley, who took over defensive playcalling with Kendell Beckwith out, goes out a winner. Riley was a big part in getting the LSU defense in position to help limit Jackson and keep him in check. He'll play in the Senior Bowl in 2017 to help his draft stock.
LSU sacked Jackson five times in the first half alone and held the Cardinals to 0-5 on third downs in the first half. It was a stifling defensive effort. LSU tallied three more sacks in the second half and finished with allowing conversions on just 2-of-17 on third downs for the Cardinals. It was another touchdown-less performance for an LSU opponent as the Tigers allowed three field goals on the day.
The Tigers turn their attention to recruiting not only the 2017 class, but the remaining juniors that are eligible to come out for the NFL Draft like Jamal Adams, Davon Godchaux, Malachi Dupre and others.