The weather was gross and miserable, which set the tone for the game. And just like the cheerleaders making the best of things in the deluge by playing slip ‘n slide, and generally jumping in muddy puddles like Peppa Pig (ask a three year old), the team came out and made the best of things tonight.
No one will put this game on their personal highlight reel, not even Brandon Harris, who cracked 200 yards for the third consecutive game. He started the night with a long touchdown bomb to Malachi Dupre, and he finished up with 286 yards and 3 TD on an 11/20 night.
Even big yardage totals come with the grain of salt of poor efficiency and a long stretch in the second and into the third quarter in which it seemed he could not string together successful passes. But when the dam burst, boy did it burst.
LSU scored 34 points in the second half, and turned a close, 17-13 game midway through the third quarter into a massive blowout. Heck, it could have been even worse, if the officials did not wipe out a fumble recovery for a touchdown on a ticky tack defensive holding call.
Leonard Fournette had a quiet game by his standards, never busting a big run (his long was a mere 18 yards), but bludgeoning the defense repeatedly until he finished the night with 150 yards on 26 carries. Hardly a Heisman highlight reel, but let's remember that we're at the point at which we consider a 150 yard night as a ho hum game. And that was against a defense that was routinely putting eight or nine guys in the box. They dared for anyone else to beat... and Harris took them up on the offer.
Travin Dural dropped a pass early, and then turned things around for one of the best games of his career. He caught 5 balls for 132 yards, and seemed to be everywhere on the field in the second half. His long 67-yard catch helped set up the touchdown which gave LSU the lead in the second quarter that they would never surrender.
Brandon Doughtry was every bit the player he was advertised to be, but he could never quite get it going against the LSU defense. He had some good drives and some nice plays, but at the end of the night, it took him 61 passes to get to 325 yards. He only averaged 5.1 yards/attempt, and while he was effective, he never felt like a real threat to win the game. He took what the defense gave him, which wasn't a whole lot.
Jamal Adams, especially, had a great game. He forced two turnovers, including a back breaking interception. Yes, he lost coverage on the underneath man a few times, but again, it's not like this defense was giving up big plays. WKU lived on the underneath routes, but could never turn that into huge gains.
The defense was solid yet not spectacular, just as it has been all year, but for the second straight week, the team was able to rely on the defense to make big stops in the second half. Expecting the defense to suddenly turn into the 2011 unit seems unreasonable, but they are an effective unit that is contributing to victory. I wouldn't say the defense slammed the door, but they at least closed it. And they held a prolific offense to just 7 points in the first half as the offense figured things out.
It wasn't a perfect game, but it was an effective one. And on a night in which other national title contenders fell to unranked foes, the win may have even qualified as beautiful. Winning is always more fun that losing, even when that win is sloppy and caked in mud.