By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
BATON ROUGE, LA: It was a beautiful day in Baton Rouge, but an ugly game for the defending national champions from beginning to end. The Mississippi State Bulldogs came into Tiger Stadium on Saturday and took home an impressive 44-34 victory. The LSU offense played out of sync, struggled to run the ball, and often looked confused. While the defense played with no intensity, had trouble tackling, and with Derek Stingley Jr. out with an illness, the secondary showed its youth and inexperience, as they were torched by K.J. Costello for 623 passing yards (a SEC single game record). How it all happened below.....
The Bulldogs won the toss and took the ball first, but went three-and-out after JaCoby Stevens blitzed and sacked K.J. Costello for a 8 yard loss forcing a punt.
The Tigers would fair no better with their first drive of the season having to give it right back to Mississippi State after only managing 17 yards on five plays.
Costello would come out firing away, hitting his receivers on the move with LSU DBs trailing in the route. LSU's defense would finally stiffen up as Ali Gaye would register a sack on 3rd and 2 to set up a 35 yard field goal attempt. Bulldog kicker Brandon Ruiz would split the uprights and give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead with 4:47 to go in the first quarter.
Both teams would trade punts as we would head into the 2nd quarter.
LSU took their next possession into the 2nd quarter sputtering badly and punting it away once again.
Costello would again drive the Bulldogs into LSU territory going 55 yards in 8
plays. However, on 3rd and five on the LSU 38 yard line, JaCoby Stevens would recover a bad shot gun snap recording LSU's first defensive turnover of the 2020 season.
LSU would go three-and-out, setting up a Zach Van Rosenburg 53 yard punt that was downed at the Bulldog nine yard line. Three plays later Jabril Cox would step in front of Costello's pass and return it 14 yards for LSU's first touchdown of the season. Von Rosenburg would kick the PAT to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead with 9:45 left in the first half.
Costello would bounce back from his mistake and take his team quickly down the field, going 75 yards in only 6 plays, hitting Tyrell Shavers for a 31 yard touchdown down the near sidelines to give Mississippi State the lead right back.
Trailing 10-7 with 7:45 left in the half, LSU would produce their best drive of the first half. Brennan finally would have some time in the pocket and make some nice throws, driving the Tigers down to the Bulldogs' 2 yard line. On 3rd and goal, Brennan would throw off of his back foot while under pressure finding Arik Gilbert in the back of the end zone for the first touchdown reception of the big tight end's LSU career. The extra point would put LSU up, 14-10 with 5:20 left. The drive covered 84 yards in eight plays taking 2:19 off the clock.
The 2nd quarter track meet would continue as Costello would continue his outstanding play. The Bulldogs would answer LSU, going 75 yards in seven plays, as the LSU defense would continue to look slow and tired. On 3rd and 11 at the LSU 43 yard line, Costello would hit Osirus Mitchell on a 43 yard pass down the far sidelines. With 2:27 left until halftime, State would grab the lead back 17-14.
Both teams would trade punts before heading into the locker room for halftime.
The Tigers would strike first in the 3rd quarter as they took the second half kickoff and drove 67 yards in 15 plays to State's 2 yard line. On 3rd and goal from the two, Erroll Thompson would sack Brennan forcing a 26 yard field goal try. Cade York would push it through to tie the game at 17-17 with 9:33 to go in the quarter.
LSU's defense would continue struggling to slow down K.J. Costello and the Bulldogs offense, as they would answer with a field goal of their own to regain the lead 20-17. The Tigers actually did a great job holding State to three points after Costello had them 1st and goal at the LSU five yard line.
The furious back and forth pace of the game would continue as LSU would respond going 75 yards in five plays as Brennan would hit Terrace Marshall on a beautiful 37 yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field. the PAT would give LSU a 24-20 advantage with 5:01 left until the final quarter.
LSU didn't have long to celebrate their lead as seconds later, the Bulldogs would strike back on the first play of their next possession. It would take the Bulldogs just 15 seconds to regain the lead as Costello would loft a pass perfectly over the fingers of a Tiger defender and into the hands of running back Kylin Hill who would race down the far sidelines for the score giving State back the lead, 27-24.
With 4:46 to go in the quarter, Brennan would begin to drive the Tigers down the field but would make his biggest mistake of them game which would prove to be a costly. Brennan's arm would be hit while attempting a pass causing the ball to travel off course and in the hands of Bulldog defensive back Esaias Furdge for an interception bringing the 3rd quarter to an end...
The Bulldogs would take advantage of the turnover as they would go 56 yards in five plays scoring on a Costello to Austin Williams nine yard touchdown toss. The point after was good, increasing the Mississippi State lead to ten, 34-24 with 14:14 to play in the game.
LSU would go three-and-out returning possession back to State. Zach Von Rosenburg would land a punt deep in Mississippi State territory. The Bulldogs would begin their drive at their own eight yard line. On second down, Costello decided to throw deep down the near sidelines and his pass ended up being intercepted by LSU true freshman Eli Ricks at the State 45 yard line.
The Tiger offense went to work. Three plays, 46 yards, and 52 seconds later, Brennan would find Terrace Marshall streaking into the end zone for a 33 yard touchdown. The score brought the 20,000 fans in Tiger Stadium to life and once again you could feel the momentum shift in the Tigers' direction.
The score was 34-31, with 11:01 left in the game. The Bulldogs set up shop at their 23
yard line. Two plays later, JaCoby Stevens would make another huge play as he would sack Costello causing a fumble and recover it. The Tigers would have to settle for a Cade York field goal to tie the game at 34-34 with 10:54 to play.
Mike Leach's Air Raid attack remained at full throttle as they would once again answer to regain the lead. Costello would drive State to the LSU 25 yard line where they settled for a 43 yard field goal. 37-34 with 7:27 remaining on the game clock.
The Tigers would go three and out and the Bulldogs would respond going 71 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 24 yard touchdown pass from Costello to Mitchell. 44-34 State, with only 3:39 left in the ball game.
The Tigers would battle to the end, driving down to the State 26 yard line but Emmanuel Forbes would intercept Brennan's pass in the end zone on the games final play to end the scoring opportunity. The Mississippi State Bulldogs pull the shocking upset, 44-34.
Other then a handful of nice plays made here and there, the Tigers offense struggled with consistency, dropped balls, blown assignments, and no rhythm at all. Myles Brennan would finish the day going 27-46, 345 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. He was sacked seven times. Terrace Marshall Jr. had a big day catching eight passes for 122 yards and made two great touchdown grabs. Jaray Jenkins caught five passes for 85 yards, while tight end Arik Gilbert had four grabs for 37 yards and a touchdown. Chris Curry lead the team in rushing with 47 yards on nine carries. Ty Davis-Price had 43 yards on 11 carries, while John Emery would add 27 yards on seven touches.
Damone Clark lead the defense with 11 tackle and a sack. JaCoby Stevens made several big plays and Jabril Cox played well highlighted by his 14 yard interception return for a touchdown. Even though the defense had five sacks on the day they still struggled to put pressure on Costello and the secondary was torched all day long. The Tigers looked like a confused, tired, and outcoached team on Saturday. LSU will need to simply put this one behind them and regroup. There is still a lot to play for this season.
Next up, the Tigers will travel to Nashville to battle Vanderbilt on Saturday October 3rd. Kickoff is set for 6:30pm and will be on SEC Network.
Photos courtesy of the SEC
A few of my photos from the press box