Clyde Edwards-Helaire put his right hand in the ground to keep his knees from touching down, and with three defenders hanging off of him, the tailback extended his left arm forward just far enough for the ball to cross the goal line.
One drive earlier, Nick Brossette kept his legs churning, spinning and squirming forward in search of daylight before popping out the other side of the pile and falling into the end zone for a touchdown of his own.
Grant Delpit got pancaked to the ground by Ole Miss running back Scottie Phillips on a slot blitz, but the do-it-all defensive back got to his feet and ran down quarterback Jordan Ta’amu for a drive-killing sack.
This may seem a bit cliché and prehistoric by today’s standard of video game football, but LSU appeared to simply want it way more than Ole Miss did when the two rivals squared off between rain drops on a damp night at Tiger Stadium.
LSU scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions to cease control of the game early and eviscerated a sloppy Ole Miss defense for a season-high 573 yards of offense as the No. 5 Tigers routed Ole Miss 45-16 in their SEC home opener on Saturday night.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome of the game,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “Total team effort.”
After looking sluggish at times against Louisiana Tech a week ago, LSU (5-0, 2-0 SEC) put together perhaps its most complete 60-minute performance to date. LSU had only amassed 400 yards of offense once in its first four games, gaining 417 against the Bulldogs.
The offense started red hot behind a career night from Joe Burrow, who went 18-for-25 for 292 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We feel like we haven’t played well yet,” Burrow said. “We’re 5-0 with two top-10 wins, and we feel like we played some of our bad games. We’re 5-0, so we can’t complain, but when we really start to hit our stride, and when we’re at peak offense, it’s going to be scary.”
Burrow connected with nine different receivers and chipped in with a team-high 96 yards on the ground and a 35-yard rushing touchdown of his own. Designed runs, run-pass options and play-action were all a larger part of the offense than in weeks past.
However, the designed run that sprung Burrow for his scoring dash wasn’t part of the gameplan at all. Burrow said the guys “drew that play up in the mud” to take advantage of something LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger had noticed.
“We’ve played against running quarterbacks, and it’s tough,” Orgeron said. “It’s like defending 12 men, especially on those quarterback draws and read options. I don’t think they were expecting him to run the football on the read option. Now, we’ve got to be careful because we don’t want him to get hurt.”
The defense for the most part blanketed the NOW (Nasty Wide Outs) in the first half and did enough late to keep one of the SEC’s leading offenses from ever getting on track. LSU held the potent passing game to just 178 yards through the air.
“DBU, they locked them down,” LSU linebacker Devin White said. “I don’t think a receiver had a touchdown. Actually, I know a receiver didn’t have a touchdown. AJ Brown didn’t have a touchdown. Greedy (Williams) and them came out there and handled their business like they said they would.”
Ole Miss (3-2, 0-2 SEC) helped the cause with countless on-target drops and by getting flagged for an astounding 17 penalties worth 167 yards, the highest totals amassed by an LSU opponent on record dating back to 1937.
Despite what the lopsided final margin may indicate, Ole Miss actually became the first team to score first against LSU.
LSU squandered an acrobatic interception by Delpit on the second play from scrimmage. A rare miss from kicker Cole Tracy, who hit the crossbar on a 53-yard field goal try, returned the ball to Ole Miss in excellent field position to set up a field goal drive.
The deficit didn’t last long. Burrow led LSU right down the field and connected with true freshman Ja’Marr Chase on a back-shoulder fade for a 21-yard touchdown. Chase showed fantastic body control to elevate for the football, make a play in the air and still manage to toe tap in bounds.
LSU got rolling downhill from there. The defense forced Ole Miss and its vaunted passing game to go three-and-out on the next four possessions while LSU orchestrated touchdown drives covering 81, 71 and 83 yards.
Burrow and Justin Jefferson for a 65-yard scoring strike to make it 28-3 in the second quarter. Ole Miss had a chance to answer with a touchdown of its own, but a goal-line stand before the half by LSU forced them to settle for another field goal instead.
“I guess they felt like they couldn’t score on us, so they kicked the field goal,” White said. “We tend to have that effect on people.”
There were some uncomfortable moments late in the third quarter as LSU appeared to be going through its typical second-half lull. A Phillips touchdown run cut the lead to 28-13, but the LSU offense responded to re-assert control.
Burrow hooked up with true freshman Terrace Marshall on a 52-yard catch-and-run to penetrate deep into Rebel territory. Facing third down, Burrow found Jefferson in the corner of the end zone for his second touchdown of the night.
“I feel like we can do it every game if we stayed focused,” Jefferson said of the offensive explosion. “When everybody is on topic, we can have these kinds of games.”
LSU will travel to Gainesville next week for its annual cross-division rivalry game against Florida, the final hurdle standing between the Tigers and a potential showdown of undefeated teams against Georgia.