BATON ROUGE, La. — If Leonard Fournette is somehow still less than 100 percent healthy, Lord have mercy on the souls of those who should encounter him when he is.
In his first game back in the LSU lineup after missing a month due to a sprained ankle, Fournette had the greatest single night by a running back in LSU’s storied history at the position. The junior smashed Alley Broussard’s 2004 single-game school record of 250 yards, rushing for 284 yards and three touchdowns on only 16 carries in a 38-21 win over No. 23 Ole Miss.
Fournette scored on runs of 59, 76 and 78 yards.
It was basically as simple as that for LSU’s offense, which exploited one of the weakest run defenses with the best running back in college football.
Another halftime turnaround
Give Ed Orgeron credit: The man clearly knows his way around a halftime speech.
Orgeron’s gamble to get aggressive at the end of the first half backfired when Danny Etling was strip-sacked at the LSU 9, giving Ole Miss wonderful field position with just 1:03 left before halftime.
The Rebels took advantage of the good fortune, scoring a 2-yard touchdown and adding a 2-point conversion to go into the locker with the game tied at 21.
But just as LSU looked like a different team in the second half a week ago after being tied with Southern Miss, the same was true against Ole Miss. The defense, which allowed its season-high in points in the first 30 minutes, held the Rebels to just one first down in the third quarter and more than made up for it with a Duke Riley interception.
Remember, this Rebel offense put up 43 points on Alabama — a stat that will come up a lot before the Tigers and Crimson Tide play one another in two weeks.
Winning between the 20s
The Ole Miss offense is lethal once it gets inside the red zone, coming into the game with a deadly 93.3 percent scoring rate inside the 20, including 22 touchdowns on its 30 trips.
It was again Saturday night, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal on its three trips into the red zone. But Ole Miss never got back to its happy place after the half, which other than Fournette’s sublime excellence was the biggest key to LSU’s win.