Saturday’s game against La Tech was one LSU should have won with ease, but that wasn’t so. Still, the Tigers avoided an upset from the Bulldogs, 38-21.
We had talked about LSU and ‘cupcake’ opponents before the game, and the Bulldogs certainly didn’t make this win easy. LSU’s performance had a shakiness to it that echoed that of Week 2’s shutout of Southeastern in certain moments - except worse.
The Bulldogs were first to midfield, after LSU went three-and-out on its first drive of the night. La Tech’s first play on offense was a 33-yard pass from Bulldogs quarterback J’Mar Smith to wide receiver Adrian Hardy.
While the opening play did cause an initial scare, the Bulldogs failed to capitalize on the drive.
It didn’t take long for LSU to find its rhythm, running mostly a ground-and-pound offense and attempting to up the passing game more later on.
The Tigers were first to the scoreboard with a 1-yd touchdown run by running back Nick Brossette. The play was set up by a 21-yard pass from quarterback Joe Burrow to a wide-open J’Marr Chase that was originally ruled a touchdown. The play was then overturned, setting the Tigers up at the goal line.
The Bulldogs were helped by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on LSU fullback Tory Carter set them up at their own 40-yard line, opening their second offensive drive of the day. Tech didn’t get anywhere on this one either, making it to their own 49-yard line before being forced to punt again.
The Tigers came up big on defense when cornerback Kristian Fulton forced a fumble on the Bulldogs’ third drive of the day on offense, with Devin White taking it to the end zone. The touchdown play was overturned, placing the ball to the 3-yard line.
Brossette finished the job with another 1-yard touchdown run to bring the Tigers’ lead to 14-0.
It was in the second quarter that the momentum really began to shift in LSU’s favor, with the Bulldogs’ first drive on offense ending in a punt.
LSU began to open up the passing game with a pair of double-digit receptions by Dee Anderson on the following drive. What looked like was going to be a touchdown drive ended with a 24-yard field goal by Cole Tracy to extend the Tigers’ lead to 17-0 with 9:17 remaining in the half.
Smith was intercepted by Ed Paris on the following drive, setting LSU up at the Tech 28-yard line. It took only one snap for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to take it to the end zone, bringing the Tigers’ lead to 24-0 almost halfway through the second quarter.
Tech didn’t get its first score of the game until the final minutes of the second quarter, with a 20-yard pass from Smith to receiver Hardy cutting LSU’s lead to 24-7 with 4:23 remaining in the half.
LSU saw its first turnover of the season with a fumble by Burrow in the last minutes of the half, setting Tech up at the LSU 36-yard line. The turnover ultimately didn’t cost the Tigers though, with a missed 49-yard field goal attempt by Bulldogs kicker Bailey Hale marking the end of the first half.
But the Tech offense that hit the field after halftime had clearly settled in, with the Bulldogs driving the ball down the field and scoring a touchdown in the first six minutes of the third quarter.
The Tigers started their first drive on offense at their own 26, only making it to their own 46 before punting it away. Tech proceeded into LSU territory yet again when it got the ball back, but the offense sputtered and was forced to punt after making its way to the Tigers’ 39.
The second score of the half came at the top of the fourth quarter, when the Bulldogs led a 71-yard touchdown drive to bring them within dangerously close striking range, 24-21
The Tigers responded for the first time on their next possession, with a 2-yard touchdown run by Brossette to extend the team’s lead to 31-21.
Tech wasted no time making its way to the LSU side of the field yet again, but a turnover on downs that resulted in an LSU touchdown snatched the game out of the Bulldogs’ reach. Edwards-Helaire punched it in with a 1-yard run to put the game on ice at 38-21, with 2:23 left on the clock.
LSU will need to put on a much stronger performance than this one when it faces the 3-1 Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday in Tiger Stadium.