The LSU offense did their best to lose their road game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in week four of the season. But the LSU defense and special teams were not going to let it happen.
Jordan Jefferson had a career game completing 15-of-28 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns of 4 and 58 yards to Brandon LaFell, who caught six passes on the day for 101 yards. But the LSU ground attack sputtered for just 30 yards on 31 carries. In fairness, the TIgers lost 18 yards on two sacks, and lost 37 yards rushing on special teams gaffs and in taking an intentional safety. But still. Russell Shepard was the leading rusher with 26 yards on 4 carries from the wildcat formation. Keiland Williams and Charles Scott combined for just 35 yards on 15 carries for the day. LSU converted only 2-of-13 third downs and only managed 12 first downs in the game.
But the Tiger defense bailed them out again. Patrick Peterson grabbed a tipped ball on Mississippi State's first pass of the game and scampered 37 yards for a touchdown. Then in what appears to be a recurring theme this year, LSU shot themselves in the foot. Peterson got flagged for unsportsman like conduct giving the Bulldogs a short field to work with on their drive. But first the holder and center couldn't hook up on the PAT, and they didn't covert. The Bulldogs took the short field and drove 66 yards for a score. They were aided by a pass interference penalty in the endzone that set up a first and goal at the two.
Later in the first quarter, with LSU up 13-7, a snap went over the LSU punter Derek Helton's head. Helton fell on it, but it set up a first and goal for MSU at the LSU 1 yard line. The Bulldogs punched it in to take a 14-13 lead at the end of one.
LSU was set up beautifully in the second quarter when MSU running back Arnil Stallworth fumbled on his own 25 yard line and the Tigers recovered. Shepard then picked up 15 yards on two successive running plays. But then the offense stalled, and LSU was forced to settle for a 22 yard field goal.
MSU took their next drive well into LSU territory before Brandon Taylor intercepted a pass from Tyson Lee at the LSU 17 yard line. After an LSU three-and-out, the Bulldogs were driving again right before the half. But they bungled their own snap on a field goal attempt just before intermission, and the score remained 16-14.
LSU came out firing on their first play of the second half when Jefferson hit LaFell on their 58 yard touchdown hookup. Later in the quarter the Bulldogs responded with a bomb of their own when Lee hit Marcus Green for a 50 yard touchdown to pull the score to 23-21.
On the ensuing drive, the Tigers would blow a chance for more points when a 40 yard pass to R.J. Jackson set up a first and goal at the MSU seven yard line. Jefferson threw two incomplete passes, and then on third and goal at the seven, Jefferson tried to run it in coming up short at the two. Then LSU kicker Josh Jasper missed the chip shot field goal and LSU came away empty allowing the Bulldogs to hang around.
With the game in the balance, it was becoming obvious the offense wasn't going to pull it out on their own. So the special teams stepped up on the first play of the fourth quarter. Chad Jones, who LSU fans will not hesitate to tell you is TEH AWSUM, fielded a punt at his own seven yard line. Then in a return that featured more cuts than a person sticking their arm in a bucket of broken glass, Jones returned the kick 93 yards for the score. The extra point was true and LSU took a 30-21 lead.
On MSU's next drive, the Tigers once again gave up a big play of 46 yards on a pass by backup quarterback Chris Relf to O'Neil Wilder to the LSU 21 yard line. From there the LSU defense held up, and MSU was forced to settle for a 22 yard field goal to pull within six points.
With just 10 minutes to go in the game, a long sustained scoring drive could have sealed the game for LSU. They started out promising gaining 29 yards on their first two plays. But then that was it. Four plays later, Helton punted into the endzone for a touchback, and LSU had only consumed two minutes on five plays. After a failed MSU drive, LSU got the ball with just under six minutes to play and a chance to ice the game. But this time they only gained 9 yards on 5 plays after consuming 1:55, and LSU had to punt from their own 12 yard line.
MSU took the ball at the 50 with 3:53 to play and drove down the field. An 18 yard rush by Anthony Dixon gave them a first and goal at the LSU 2 yard line and it looked like the Tigers were going down. Dixon ran for one yard on first down, and then he got stuffed for no gain on second down. Tyson Lee threw an incomplete pass that was broken up by Chad Jones. Then Lee tried to sneak it in on fourth down, but came up short. The LSU defense saved the game, and the Tigers advanced to the ugliest 4-0 record in the country. But it was good enough to launch them into the top five in the polls.
Quotes From The Game
"I still want to run the football. It’s too fundamental to me not to be important, and I want that. I want it for Charles Scottand that offensive line and Keiland Williams, and I want to be able to come off the football." - Les Miles
"Russell Shepard got into the game for a short series, and I really wanted to get him back in the game in the second half. The difference is that we wanted to be in two-back, and we wanted to throw the football, and that’s not necessarily what we want to do with Russell Shepard in the game." - Les Miles
"The offensive line flat out sucks right now. There's no nice way to say it. They suck. They know they suck." - And The Valley Shook
"After the TD to open the half, LSU's offense went into the tank. LSU only had three 1st downs from that point on. The defense wore down as the half went on, but that was due to an offense that simply didn't show up for the second half." - And The Valley Shook