No. 2 LSU cruises past Miss. St., 36-13, on record-breaking Joe Burrow day
Mississippi State kept LSU's offense on the sideline and out of the end zone for most of the first half Saturday.
But once Joe Burrow and the Tigers finally broke the goal line on a busted coverage with just over five minutes left in the second quarter, the Bulldogs (3-4, 1-3) couldn't seem to find the brakes.
The senior quarterback led four touchdown drives in a span of five possessions to carve his name into the program record books and sling No. 2 LSU (7-0, 3-0) to a 36-13 victory.
"I think we were a little sloppy — we didn't convert in the red zone like we usually do," Burrow told CBS after the game, referencing the slow start and season-low 36 points. "But we got the SEC win, and that's all that matters."
Burrow finished 25-for-32 (78.1 percent) for 327 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers and completed passes to eight different teammates in all.
The performance pushed his season total to 29 passing touchdowns and 31 total touchdowns accounted for, surpassing previous marks by Matt Mauck and JaMarcus Russell.
His fifth 300-yard game of the season is one shy of Rohan Davey's six in 2001, and the seventh of his career matches Davey's number.
"It's a testament to him, the receivers, the offensive line, the coaching," coach Ed Orgeron said in his postgame press conference. "We're just getting started, though. Our team's got a lot of football left.... I know Joe’s not worried about records. We’re 7-0. Our team is upset about how we played. I’m happy. I may not be happy tomorrow after I watch film but I’m happy we won."
Mississippi State managed to delay the seemingly inevitable until well into the second quarter.
The Bulldogs controlled the time of possession for much of the first half (17:44 to 12:16), including one nearly seven-minute drive, and forced the Tigers to settle for Cade York field goals of 20, 23 and 25 yards on three red-zone trips to start the game.
And freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader put the home team on the scoreboard with a 12-yard scramble to the end zone to send the Davis Wade Stadium cowbells into a frenzy with 5:24 left in the half.
Burrow had been held from the end zone on three straight possessions on just one previous occasion this season.
And Saturday's drought ended quickly from there.
The Bulldogs left Racey McMath wide open to Burrow's left on first down.
"It was probably a miscommunication by the defense," Burrow said. "It was a good call by (offensive coordinator) Steve (Ensminger), and we executed it well."
The junior wide receiver from Edna Karr was off to the races up the sideline 60 yards for the second touchdown of his career.
Junior safety JaCoby Stevens made a leaping one-handed interception of Shrader six plays later, ripping the ball from the air with his right hand and returning it nine yards to the Mississippi State 40.
Burrow and the offense took just five plays before finding sophomore receiver Ja'Marr Chase in the end zone for an 8-yard score and 22-7 halftime advantage.
LSU's defense denied its hosts a return trip to the end zone until the final minute of the game.
The Bulldogs finished with just three drives of more than 30 yards and a final total of 340 yards — 145 of which came on their first four possessions.
"The defense came to play today," Orgeron said. "The turnovers helped us today. It gave us time for the offense to get hot."
Burrow and company, indeed, pulled away.
The Heisman-hopeful quarterback found senior receiver Derrick Dillon for a beautiful 37-yard score over the top of the defense to cap a 66-yard, 1:27 drive midway through the third quarter.
Burrow and junior receiver Justin Jefferson then punctuated an 80-yard, 2:52 drive with an 18-yard strike to push the lead to 36-7.
Shrader hit Livonia product Stephen Guidry Jr. for a 24-yard score down the right side with 59 seconds remaining to trim the gap to 36-13.
But the touchdown was far too little, far too late for the struggling Bulldogs.
"I know they were upset they gave up the late touchdown, but I thought they were dominant all day," Burrow said.
Jefferson and McMath led Burrow's cast of weapons with 89 yards and 76 yards, respectively.
Chase and junior tight end Thaddeus Moss each finished with 48 yards, and Dillon added the 37 on the touchdown play.
Junior running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and true freshman Tyrion Davis-Price provided 53 yards and 49 yards on the ground.
Junior safety Grant Delpit led the defense with a season-high 11 tackles.
Stevens added eight, including a sack and his interception, and Michael Divinity Jr. recorded his second sack of the season, another tackle for loss and a forced fumble recovered by senior defensive end Rashard Lawrence.
"We weren’t as sharp as we usually are on offense," Orgeron said. "Plus-three in the turnover margin I think is the difference in the game."
Junior defensive back Kary Vincent Jr. and junior linebacker Jacob Phillips each finished with eight tackles.
Shrader completed 17 of 28 passes (60.7 percent) for 238 yards, one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown and interceptions by Stevens and senior cornerback Kristian Fulton.
His 66 rushing yards led all players, and star running back Kylin Hill managed just 34 yards on 15 attempts and one catch for five yards.
Guidry finished with six catches for a game-high 98 yards and the score.