BATON ROUGE, La. — After slogging through an uninspired first half, LSU came out in the second half looking like interim coach Ed Orgeron after he’s chugged a Red Bull.
Five massive plays in the third quarter represented the difference between LSU and Southern Miss as the Tigers pulled away for a 45-10 win.
Play 1: Derrius Guice 61-yard run
Everyone in the stadium knew LSU was giving the ball to Guice on a third-and-1 from its own 39. Russell Gage, almost exclusively used as a blocker, was one of the two receivers split to the right. Southern Miss crept a safety into the box.
And all that did was give Guice nothing but daylight once he got five yard past the line, putting LSU up 17-10.
Play 2: Jamal Adams forced fumble and recovery
On Southern Miss’ first possession following the Guice score, safety Jamal Adams burst into the backfield and nailed Golden Eagles running back George Payne. The ball hit the turf and it was Adams who recovered it. Right then and there the game felt over. The energy was on LSU’s side for the first time all game.
Play 3: Guice 20-yard touchdown
Two plays after Adams put the door on Southern Miss coffin, Guice drove in the first nail as he made it 20 yards untouched to the end zone for a 24-10 lead.
Play 4: DJ Chark 80-yard touchdown reception
It goes down as LSU’s first pass play of more than 50 yards this season, but Chark did most of the legwork. Danny Etling found Chark at the LSU 35 for a first down, and Southern Mississippi’s safety appeared to have a good angle to take Chark down around midfield.
However, he did not have Chark’s speed, and it was off to the races to officially put the game away.
Play 5: Etling 63-yard pass to Malachi Dupre
We’ve been waiting for Etling to connect on a legitimate deep throw, and this was the one. A disastrously blown coverage by the Golden Eagles made it easy, but it still had to be refreshing for Tiger fans to see a quarterback connect on a deep ball for the first time all season. But we will still have to see if any of this makes opponents respect LSU’s passing game.
So what was that first half?
Uninspired slop. It might have been rust from an unexpected bye week, though you’d have thought the extra time would have sharpened the Tigers. LSU had 12 men on the field twice — once on offense and once on defense.
Really, Southern Miss’ first drive dictated the slow pace of the entire first half. A pair of LSU penalties kept it alive and the Golden Eagles milked eight minutes off the clock before scoring a touchdown. The Tigers could never get into an offensive rhythm until getting the ball first to open the second half.