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Rev up the Nuss Bus: LSU wins a 35-31 thriller over Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl in the debut of Garrett Nussmeier

Garrett Nussmeier’s 395 passing yards and three touchdowns propel LSU to a 35-31 victory over Wisconsin in ReliaQuest Bowl.

NCAA Football: ReliaQuest Bowl-Wisconsin at Louisiana State
LSU Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (13) throws the ball during the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Raymond James Stadium.
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

LSU started the new year with an epic 35-31 victory over a pesky Wisconsin team in the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Fla. at Raymond James Stadium to finish the 2023 season.

The Tigers (10-3) scored its 10th win of the season for the second season in a row, the first time since 2018-2019 when Joe Burrow was wearing the Purple and Gold. LSU head coach Brian Kelly also became only the second coach to win at least 10 games in his first two seasons, with the other being Les Miles.

The Badgers (7-6) lost its first bowl game since 2019 when they lost to Oregon 28-27 in the Rose Bowl in the 2019-20 season.

LSU quarterback Garrett Nussmeier threw for 395 yards and tossed three touchdowns. Nussmeier threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Brian Thomas with 3:02 left in the game to cap off an 8-play, 98-yard drive. For his efforts, he was named the ReliaQuest Bowl Most Outstanding Player.

Wisconsin led 14-0 to start the game after Tanner Mordecai threw two touchdowns of 20 and 53 yards to Bryson Green and Will Pauling.

However, Nussmeier started to heat up and led LSU to two straight touchdown drives that were capped off by a one-yard run from linebacker Harold Perkins and a 12-yard from freshman running back Kaleb Jackson.

However, Wisconsin would take the lead entering after a nine-yard touchdown pass from Mordecai to Pauling for a nine-yard touchdown pass with 47 seconds left in the half.

Wisconsin would open the second half with a 33-yard touchdown run touchdown run by running back Jackson Acker to extend Wisconsin’s lead to 28-14.

However, LSU would respond with two consecutive touchdown drives of their own. Nussmeier capped off a 5-play, 75-yard touchdown drive with a 38-yard bomb to Brian Thomas for a touchdown. On the following drive, Nussmeier completed five of his six passes for 45 yards and ended the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hilton who made an even better catch.

After Wisconsin kicked a field to take the lead with 1:18 left in the third quarter, LSU had to punt back-to-back times as they could not get anything going. However, the Nuss Buss was just parked, not broken down.

With 6:02 left in the game, Nussmeier revved up the engine at LSU’s two-yard line. He then drove down the field in eight plays and completed the drive by throwing the eventual game-winning four-yard touchdown pass to Thomas for his second receiving touchdown of the game.

Wisconsin would then scare LSU’s defense by driving down the field to the Tigers’ 19-yard line, but three straight sacks by the LSU defense gave the ball back to LSU with 31 seconds remaining.

LSU running back Josh Williams led the Tigers with 51 rushing yards on 12 carries. Thomas, who may have played in his last game in a LSU uniform, had eight carries for 98 yards and two touchdowns.