With three top 10 teams losing on Saturday, LSU (8-1) moves to No. 4 in the national poll, it's highest ranking since being rated No. 4 in 1987. The Tigers are 8-1 for the first time since 1972.
Facing its second in-state opponent of the season (LSU beat ULM 49-7 on Aug. 30), the Tigers rolled up 653 yards of total offense and scored all 49 points in the first half against the Bulldogs hapless defense. Louisiana Tech head coach Jack Bicknell, as well as his team, stood in shock as the Tigers jumped out to a 28-0 first quarter advantage.
"That was just a fantastic football team we played, and if they are not the best team in the country, I'd be shocked," Bicknell said. "I just feel like the speed out there was unbelievable, big players. We played Miami and I promise you I feel like they are better than Miami."
LSU quarterback Matt Mauck had a career night completing 18-of-20 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns. Devery Henderson was on the receiving end of a pair of touchdown strikes while Michael Clayton and Skyler Green each reeled in a scoring toss.
"A lot of times quarterbacks get a lot of credit they don't deserve and they get a lot of blame they don't deserve," Mauck said. "My teammates did such a good job, receivers getting open, line blocking. That really made it almost kind of easy for me. I didn't have to do a whole lot. They did most of the work."
As for the ground assault, Alley Broussard collected his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season with 106 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown. However, the offense was not the only dominating presence for LSU on Saturday. The Tigers limited pass-happy Tech quarterback Luke McCown to just 152 yards on 11-of-28 passing. McCown also tossed a pair of interceptions, both of which, ironically, ended up in the arms of two Ruston High School products – defensive tackle Kyle Williams and free safety Jack Hunt. Hunt returned McCown's second errant pass 29 yards for a touchdown.
"It feels pretty good," Hunt said. "I was actually telling my mom the other day that it would have been nice if the first one I caught against ULM, you know, it would be nice to get that one against Tech and score a touchdown against my hometown team. It worked out good, you know, I got one there and here and it worked out pretty nice."
Williams was all smiles as well.
"The ball just popped straight up in the air," Williams said. "I think it was just one of those luck things. I was just kind of sitting there waiting on it, you know, seems like it was in the air forever. I think I had a little help holding the ball up because I can't catch, so it had to hang up there for a while for me to get my hands on it."
LSU quarterback Matt Mauck and Devery Henderson celebrate
one of Henderson's two touchdowns on Saturday. (LSU)
McCown marveled at LSU's speed on defense, which kept him running for his life most of the night.
"Looking at film I did not think they were as fast as they were on the field," McCown said. "All the credit in the world goes out to them. They (LSU) are a great football team and they have a shot at winning the national championship. Their defense is obviously as good as Miami's or better. They are a great football team and that is about all you can say about it."
LSU got off to a quick start offensively. Holding Tech to just five plays on its first possession, Mauck and Co. marched 65 yards on a mere four plays when the junior quarterback hooked up with streaking Clayton for a 34 yards pitch and catch.
The Tigers fumbled on their next possession, but found the end zone again as Justin Vincent danced into the end zone form seven yards out, capping a 8-play, 96-yard drive.
Mauck made it a 21-0 contest with an 8-yard scoring strike to Skyler Green with 3:19 to go in the first quarter. The drive covered, which covered just 20 yards, was set up by Williams interception of McCown. Hunt's interception return made it a 28-0 game with 2:58 to go in the opening period.
Louisiana Tech never recovered.
"These last three games, which we've come out and played well, we've really gotten off to a good start," Mauck said. "Tonight the only disappointment is that maybe we could have come out in the second half and performed as well as we did in the first half."
Mauck opened the second period with more aerial fireworks hitting Henderson on a 46-yard touchdown pitch and catch, culminating a drive of 80 yards in just three plays.
"I was very pleased with the way we played in the first half," LSU head coach Nick Saban said. "We played pretty well on both sides of the ball. I think they had one big play in the first half, a running play and he's a pretty good back. I was very pleased with the way they played and competed."
The Bulldogs managed to dent the scoreboard with a 29-yard Josh Scobee field goal. However, the Tigers responded with another Henderson touchdown grab and a 15-yard Broussard run raising the tally to 49-3.
The second half was a rather uneventful montage of mistakes and miscues as the Tigers kicked in the cruise control to a 49-10 lead. McCown hooked up with Eric Newman on a 49-yard touchdown strike, much to the dismay of Saban and his defense.
"I always seems to get upset in these games when we get a ahead in the game and we play other guys in the game," Saban said. "I have a high standard or how I think they should perform and how they should play, but yet because they are backup players, sometimes they must not have the same standard. It always means the coach gets upset."