No. 14 LSU got back on track Saturday and did so emphatically.
The Tigers went into Starkville and opened up SEC play with a blowout 41-14 road win over Mississippi State. After the disappointing Week 1 loss to Florida State, it was a great way for LSU to right the ship as Jayden Daniels threw for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Daniels also rushed for 64 yards and two scores in the win.
Daniels and the Tigers were locked in from the start. LSU was up 17-0 just two plays into the second quarter and then took a 24-7 lead into the halftime locker room. By that point, Daniels was 21-of-22 for 255 yards and two scores, including a gorgeous 33-yard touchdown pass to Malik Nabers on a fourth-and-7 play.
Nabers had an incredible performance for the Tigers, catching 13 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns. On the other side, the LSU defense completely overwhelmed Will Rogers and the Mississippi State offense.
Following the death of Mike Leach, new MSU head coach Zach Arnett made a major philosophy change on offense. The Bulldogs leaned heavily on the run as they got off to a 2-0 start, but they weren’t able to do much in either facet Saturday. Rogers, MSU’s senior quarterback, struggled mightily as the LSU pass rush pressured him all afternoon. He threw for only 103 yards while completing just 11 of his 28 attempts.
It was a far cry from the defensive performance in the second half of the Florida State game. On that night in Orlando, the Seminoles gashed the Tigers for nearly 500 yards of offense and 31 second-half points. LSU had a get-right home win over Grambling State last week, and carried that over to Saturday’s showdown in Starkville.
As LSU’s lead grew its lead to 41-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers had outgained Mississippi State 505 yards to 123. It was total domination from start to finish. In the end, Mississippi State was limited to only 201 yards of offense and went a miserable 3-of-13 on third down.
What does this mean for LSU?
This was a reminder from LSU that it shouldn’t be written off just because of the loss to Florida State.
The Tigers entered the season ranked No. 5 in the country, but the second-half showing in the FSU loss in such a high-profile game was not a promising way to start the season. But all of LSU’s goals are still within reach, and going on the road for the SEC opener and winning in such dominant fashion makes a big-time statement for Brian Kelly’s program.
Of course, Mississippi State doesn’t have the personnel to exploit some of LSU’s weaknesses like Florida State did. LSU’s cornerbacks were overmatched versus the Seminoles, and Mississippi State just does not have the passing game, nor offensive line talent, to set up and win the one-on-one matchups on the outside. Next week’s opponent, Arkansas, doesn’t either. But there will be challenges down the line on the conference schedule. The trip to Ole Miss in a few weeks is going to be tough, and a road game vs. Alabama later in the year is always worth circling.
But when Daniels and the defense play this well, LSU is going to be very difficult to beat.