Defense Leads No. 3 LSU to 12th-Straight Win at State
LSU Sports Interactive
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- LSU's suffocating defense allowed only 193 yards and had 15 tackles for loss, while Drew Alleman kicked four field goals to give the No. 3-ranked Tigers a 19-6 victory over Mississippi State on Thursday night.
LSU (3-0, 1-0 SEC) beat Mississippi State (1-2, 0-2 SEC) for the 12th-straight time and the 19th in the past 20 meetings.
LSU outgained Mississippi State, 361-193, including a 148-52 advantage on the ground. Despite committing nine penalties for 83 yards, the Tigers managed to hold the ball for nearly 38 minutes.
Starting quarterback Jarrett Lee was nearly flawless, completing 21-of-27 passes for 213 yards including a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rueben Randle with 12 minutes to play in the game. In the fourth quarter, Lee was intercepted for the first time in 131 pass attempts when Randle broke off a route along the right sideline.
Randle led the Tigers receiving corps with 98 yards on six catches. Freshman wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had a game-high eight catches for 61 yards.
The Tigers defense was stellar and dominant. Before the game's final drive when the game was in hand, LSU did not allow a single yard in the fourth quarter.
Morris Claiborne had two interceptions, while fellow corner Tyrann Mathieu led the team with 10 tackles. LSU had (revised) 16 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for minus-65 yards including six sacks for 37 yards. Defensive tackles Bennie Logan and Michael Brockers combined for six tackles for loss, tackle Anthony Johnson had two, while end Kendrick Adams and linebacker Ryan Baker added 1.5 each. Adams also had a fumble recovery.
After the first quarter, Mississippi State's Chris Relf had little success against the Tigers defense. Once LSU found its bearings against the 6-foot-4, 225-pound quarterback, Relf finished 11-of-17 passing for 96 yards and was relieved by Tyler Russell in the fourth quarter. Russell was 4-of-8 for 45 yards and an interception.
Relf also carried a team-high 16 times for 10 net yards. He was sacked three times. Running back Vick Ballard led Mississippi State with 38 yards on 10 carries, as the Bulldogs finished with 52 net yards on 34 attempts.
LSU won the toss and deferred its decision until the second half, and Mississippi State took possession to start the game. A short kickoff by Alleman and a 25-yard return by Jameon Lewis gave the Bulldogs good field position at their 36. However, a 6-yard sack by Adams and a false start halted the Bulldogs drive.
A 47-yard punt by Baker Swedenberg and a minus-5 yard return by Mathieu pushed the Tigers back to the 19 where they took over.
LSU began its longest drive of the season in terms of plays and yards, but wasn't able to cross the goal line. Ward did the bulk of the work in the Tigers' backfield-oriented attack during the drive, running seven times for 29 yards including a 10-yard scamper to setup first-and-goal at the 7. Three plays netted only three yards before Alleman gave LSU a 3-0 lead with a 21-yard field goal at the 5:42 mark of the first quarter.
Mississippi State countered with a much more up-tempo attack, giving Relf seven carries from under center and helping the Bulldogs to a goal-to-go situation at the LSU 9. In tight quarters, three Relf runs went for no gain. Derek DePasquale countered LSU's field goal with a 26-yarder to tie the game at 3-3 with four seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Lee connected with Beckham Jr. for a 13-yard gain for a first down and an 8-yard gain across midfield. Lee's third-down completion to wideout Kadron Boone came up four yards short of the marker, and LSU brought on DJ Howard. His 35-yard punt was fair caught at the MSU 8, where Relf started another long drive.
During a 13-play, 54-yard drive, the Bulldogs converted two third downs and a second-and-18, and entered LSU territory. Again, LSU's defense stepped up to the challenge and forced a punt.
Swedenberg's punt was downed at the 5, where Lee wasted no time going after the lone cover cornerback in MSU's stacked defensive formation. The LSU quarterback found Randle for a 31-yard gain to get the Tigers out of the shadow of the endzone. Lee continued to pass to advance into Mississippi State territory. A 9-yard connection with Randle and an 11-yard pass to wide receiver James Wright setup a first down at the MSU 31. The drive stalled when Lee's pass to Ware fell incomplete, and Alleman came in for a 42-yard field goal that was true.
LSU took a 6-3 lead into the lockerroom after outgaining the Bulldogs, 174-117. Lee was 13-of-15 for 128 yards in the half.
Penalties caught up with LSU in the third quarter, as the Tigers were forced to start the next drive at their 10-yard line. With Ware running, the Tigers gained a first down to the LSU 22. An incomplete pass to Randle forced another punt by Howard, who managed only 32 yards to the MSU 40.
On the next play, Relf went deep for the first time in the game -- and LSU made him pay. Claiborne leaped high over the back of 6-foot-1 wide receiver Michael Carr to grab the overthrown ball at the LSU 22.
Three penalties sent the Tigers backward and close to their goal line. Howard was able to get off a 41-yard punt from the endzone to get the Tigers out of trouble.
The Bulldogs were able to take advantage of the short field this time, overcoming a third-and-10 with a 11-yard completion and a personal foul for a late hit. Offsides on LSU setup a first-and-5 at the LSU 19, but Relf couldn't find an open receiver and was sacked by Johnson. The Bulldogs couldn't overcome the freshman's effort and settled for a second field goal.
The 42-yard attempt was successful to tie the game at 6-6 with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
LSU quickly answered the score with Alleman's third field goal of the contest. A personal foul on the Bulldogs gave the Tigers a first down at the LSU 45. Lee then found Beckham Jr. and Randle to for gains of 6 and 10 yards, setting up runs of 11 and 6 yards by Ford. The drive was stopped when Ware was stuffed in the backfield and Lee's pass to Randle was dropped over the middle. Alleman continued to perform valiantly, making a 41-yard field goal to give LSU a 9-6 lead with 1:46 left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter is when the LSU defense began to assert itself, and the Tigers offense started to dominate a worn-down Bulldogs line.
Lee opened the quarter with a 20-yard pass to Randle to the Tigers 44. Then, Beckham Jr. caught three-straight passes of 8, 5 and 11 yards to the LSU 43, where Ware ran for a first down to the Bulldogs 19. Lee capped his efficient game with a perfectly thrown pass to Randle in the right corner of the endzone for the game's only touchdown.
The Tigers led 16-6 with 11:56 left in the game.
With Relf under center, the Bulldogs again went nowhere and quickly punted. But two plays later, the Bulldogs got new life -- if only for a few moments. From his 31, Lee looked deep along the right sideline for Randle again, but the wide receiver broke off the route and Lee was intercepted by cornerback Johnthan Banks.
With backup Russell replacing Relf under center, Mississippi State again gained nothing against the Tigers front line, moving backward five yards before punting.
Electing to keep the ball out of the air, LSU advanced to the Bulldogs 44 after a 23-yard run by Ware. In Bulldogs territory, LSU was willing to punt rather than take a chance on third down. The Tigers burned nearly four minutes on the drive.
On first down at the MSU 20, Russell was sacked by Baker and Logan. On second-and-20, Russell again took pressure from his left by Baker and his pass in the direction of Perkins was intercepted by Claiborne at the MSU 19 to put the game on ice.
The Tigers burned two more minutes off the clock before Alleman connected on a 29-yard field goal to give LSU its final margin, 19-6.
With Russell at quarterback, Mississippi State was able to advance 59 yards before running out of time at the LSU 19.
The announced crowd was 56,924, the third-largest in Davis-Wade Stadium history.
LSU returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 24, when it travels to Morgantown, W.Va., to face West Virginia. Kickoff time for the nationally televised game will be announced on Sunday.