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Tigers Pile On Points Late

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Kenny Hilliard made the most of his limited touches Saturday evening as he rushed for three touchdowns on just six carries. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.
Kenny Hilliard made the most of his limited touches Saturday evening as he rushed for three touchdowns on just six carries. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

LSU ran up 28 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from a pesky Mississippi State squad and preserve their chances of playing for a national championship. The Tigers were only ahead by five points when the fourth quarter began. Then a string of miscues by the Bulldogs and big plays by the Tigers put the game out of reach and secured LSU’s 14th straight victory over Mississippi State.

Here are five key takeaways from Saturday’s game in Starkville:

Mettenberger’s Efficiency

Zach Mettenberger completed an impressive 25 of 29 pass attempts for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps his only blemish on the evening was an ill-advised screen pass intended for Jeremy Hill that was intercepted. Mettenberger lobbed the pass over the middle of the field, overthrowing Hill with the ball landing in the hands of a Mississippi State defender. It’s only his second interception of the season.

Mettenberger has thrown 15 touchdown passes through six games this season. He threw 12 touchdown passes in 13 games last year. The senior is now fourth in the country and first in the SEC in passing efficiency. New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron deserve a lot of credit for his performance.

Opportunistic Running Backs

Kenny Hilliard may have carried the ball only six times, but he made the most of those six carries, scoring a touchdown on half of his touches. He led all running backs with three rushing touchdowns. Alfred Blue and Terrence Magee also had six carries with Blue rushing for a 17-yard touchdown late in the game.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hill had another big game, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns. He completed his night with 16 carries for 157 yards to lead all rushers.

Career Night For Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham made several impressive catches and finished with a career high in receptions (nine) and yards (179), adding two touchdowns for good measure. Mettenberger constantly turned to Beckham for big plays when the Tigers needed them most. His second touchdown, a 33-yard catch and run, was the first score of LSU’s impressive 28-point fourth quarter.

Defense Surrenders Big Plays And Yards

For the second game in a row, LSU’s defense gave up some big plays and big yards. Mississippi State’s two-quarterback system picked apart the Tigers’ defense all night long. LSU had a particularly difficult time stopping quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell on designed running plays. As a matter of fact, Prescott was the Bulldogs’ leading rusher with 103 yards highlighted by a 28-yard scoring run early in the game.

The Tigers’ defense gave up 468 total yards and 23 first downs. Mississippi State accumulated their yards using a fairly balanced attack with 216 yards coming on the ground and 252 through the air. Defensive coordinator John Chavis is sure to take a look at his defense’s struggles as the Tigers still have some prolific offenses left on their schedule.

Gators Up Next

One area of concern on offense might be the protection of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. He was sacked three times Saturday night and has been sacked seven times in the last two games. Florida travels to Tiger Stadium next Saturday for a key inter-divisional contest. The Gators have arguably the best defense in the SEC and one of the best units in the nation.