7:30 PM ET, September 27, 2008
Tiger Stadium (LA), Baton Rouge, LA
BATON ROUGE, La. -- With the battering Charles Scott in LSU's backfield, Les Miles didn't have to resort to any tricks to avoid this week's upset bug.
Miles did take one small gamble: A fourth-and-goal run from the 1 that Scott easily punched in for one of his two short touchdowns.
Scott surpassed 100 yards rushing for a fourth straight game, leading No. 5 LSU to a 34-24 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
• Charles Scott posted his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game (141 yards) in the Tigers' defeat of Mississippi State.
• LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee was 18-for-27 for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
• LSU has scored at least 21 points in a school-record 25 straight games and has won nine straight and 16 of their last 17 against the Bulldogs.
• Mississippi State fell to 1-4 for the sixth time in the last eight years.
-- ESPN research
"We played a very physical defense and ... matched that physicality or exceeded it," Miles said. "I think we can run the football against any opponent."
The Bulldogs turned in a feisty performance in a bid to add another surprising result to a week highlighted by upsets of No. 1 Southern California, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Florida.
Mississippi State trailed by only 10 during much of the fourth quarter, but Scott's 27 carries for 141 yards kept LSU (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) moving and the clock rolling.
"If the coaching staff is relying on me that much, that just tells you how much they think of me, so it makes you a confident player," Scott said. "When I am confident, I always play harder. Every player would. I am very comfortable in this role."
Jarrett Lee, who made his first start and went the whole way with Andrew Hatch still recovering from a concussion, put the game away with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Byrd, which made it 34-17 with under five minutes to go. Lee finished 18-of-27 for 261 yards. Brandon LeFell made seven catches for 100 yards.
The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-2) rushed for 110 yards against an LSU defense that had been giving up an average of 55.3 yards coming. Anthony Dixon and Christian Ducre each had short rushing TDs for Mississippi State.
However, LSU starting interior defensive linemen Ricky Jean-Francois and Charles Alexander both were shaken up in the first half. Alexander briefly returned in the fourth quarter, Jean-Francois did not, but remained on the sideline in uniform.
Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom gave Tyson Lee his first start -- and all the snaps -- at quarterback. Lee was forced to throw the ball away several times in the face of heavy LSU blitzing, but was sacked only once and finished 17-of-26 for 175 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
His touchdown pass went to Ducre for 11 yards, the final score of the game, and Croom stood by his decision.
"Tyson had excellent practices this week. He just really started to understand exactly what we're doing, where to go with football," Croom said. "I liked his tempo. I like the way he was in command throughout the game. He made some excellent throws. ... When things broke down he was very decisive about what he was going to do, whether he was going to throw it away or going to run."
Mississippi State converted one of two LSU turnovers into a touchdown in the second quarter, and the Bulldogs trailed only 17-10 at halftime.
Having seen first-half drives stall on an interception and fullback Quinn Johnson's fumble, Miles went back to basics and gave the ball to his workhorse.
Scott took handoffs on the first four plays of the third quarter. The result: 50 yards, including a pair of 20-yard runs. Soon after, Lee's short pass to LaFell was fumbled at the 1, but recovered in the end zone by tight end Richard Dickson for a touchdown.
"I can tell you it was not the game we had all scripted," Miles said. "I would have liked to play better than we did, but I like what we did."
Colt David's 39-yard field goal on LSU's next drive made it 27-10 before Dixon's 1-yard TD made it a 10-point game with 10:25 remaining.
It was a hard-fought performance by MSU, which was embarrassed 38-7 at Georgia Tech a week earlier and blown out 45-0 by LSU in 2007. But the Bulldogs, who finished 8-5 with a Liberty Bowl victory last season, have little margin for error if they want another postseason invitation this year.
If the Tigers needed a reminder of the hazards that come with overlooking a heavy underdog (LSU was more than a three-TD favorite), all they had to do was see Ole Miss' 31-30 upset at Florida or Oregon State's 27-21 shocker over USC on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs showed no early sign of being intimidated; Derek Pegues returned the opening kickoff 59 yards to the LSU 32, setting up Adam Carlson's 42-yard field goal, which put the Tigers behind in a game at home for the first time this season.
David's 38-yard field goal tied the game on LSU's first possession.
Jarrett Lee, a redshirt freshman who blossomed during the second half of LSU's comeback at Auburn a week ago, continued to look more comfortable. His 30-yard pass to LaFell set up LSU's first score.
When the Tigers faced second-and-30 on their second drive, Lee hit LaFell on consecutive plays for gains of 18 and 14 yards to sustain a drive that ended with Scott's 1-yard TD.
On LSU's next drive, Lee hit Terrance Toliver for a 31-yard gain, igniting a drive that Scott again finished off with a forceful score to make it 17-3.
"The Auburn game really boosted my confidence and made me feel like I really could go out there and do it," Lee said. "Last week, being in that hostile environment really helped me."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Demetrius Byrd caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee to give the Tigers a 34-17 lead with 4:54 left in the game.
Gameball goes to... Charles Scott, who rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat of the game... 9. The Tigers have beaten Mississippi State nine straight times, and 16 of the last 17.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-14||6-12|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-1|
|FG||13:28||Adam Carlson 42 Yd||3||0|
|FG||11:18||Colt David 38 Yd||3||3|
|TD||01:03||Charles Scott 1 Yd Run (Colt David Kick)||3||10|
|TD||10:10||Charles Scott 1 Yd Run (Colt David Kick)||3||17|
|TD||02:20||Christian Ducre 5 Yd Run (Adam Carlson Kick)||10||17|
|TD||12:27||Richard Dickson Recovered Fumble In End Zone (Colt David Kick)||10||24|
|FG||04:42||Colt David 39 Yd||10||27|
|TD||10:25||Anthony Dixon 1 Yd Run (Adam Carlson Kick)||17||27|
|TD||04:54||Demetrius Byrd 43 Yd Pass From Jarrett Lee (Colt David Kick)||17||34|
|TD||02:40||Christian Ducre 11 Yd Pass From Tyson Lee (Adam Carlson Kick)||24||34|