BATON ROUGE, La. – Kenny Hilliard leaped from the 2-yard line, lunging over the goal line early in the third quarter for LSU’s third touchdown of the game.
Moments later, fans began to stream out of Tiger Stadium, comfortable LSU would stay undefeated in this young season after Hilliard’s knockout punch on Washington.
The No. 3-ranked Tigers coasted to a 41-3 win, sending the Huskies reeling back to the West coast and showing how far apart the top of the Southeastern Conference is from the middle of the Pac-12.
Yep, just another non-conference day for LSU (2-0), which won its 39th-consecutive regular season game against an opponent not in the SEC. LSU also tied a school record for consecutive wins at Tiger Stadium with 19 straight.
“Not a bad night,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “Kind of nice to be a Tiger.”
Said running back Alfred Blue, “That’s how LSU plays. Everyone knows that when you go into Tiger Stadium, LSU is going to play dominant.”
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger finished the game 12 of 18 for 195 yards and a touchdown. And his night could have been better – four of his six incompletions were dropped passes.
But it was on the ground where LSU did the most damage – on both offense and defense. Behind Blue’s 101 yards on 14 carries, LSU gained 242 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the Tigers defense suffocated Washington (1-1), keeping the Huskies to just 26 rushing yards.
The Tigers outgained Washington nearly 2-to-1, finishing with 437 total yards to the Huskies’ 183. LSU sacked Washington quarterback Keith Price four times for minus-28 yards and never allowed a Washington drive longer than 45 yards.
Said Huskies quarterback Keith Price, “I actually felt it. I felt the pressure and tried to get out a couple times and you see I threw a pick trying to do too much.”
“I think it’s pretty clear to the naked eye that they’ve got a pretty good team over there,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.
The game started off ominously for LSU, however.
LSU gave away momentum almost immediately when Odell Beckham Jr. fumbled the opening kickoff at the Tigers’ 20. Washington recovered, setting up its first offensive series of the game in dangerous territory.
LSU’s defense held, though, forcing a 34-yard field goal by Travis Coons, putting the Tigers in a 3-0 hole just 51 seconds into the game.
It only took another three minutes for the Tigers to take over and begin to put the game away.
A Brad Wing 62-yard punt changed field position, sticking Washington with possession at its own 4.
Six plays later, including a 32-yard punt by Washington’s Korey Durkee, LSU’s Alfred Blue skated into the end zone for a 7-3 lead. Blue went through a hole created by first-time starting left tackle Josh Dworaczyk and fullback J.C. Copeland to easily pick up his ninth-career touchdown.
Washington seemingly had its first long drive of the game going late in the opening quarter, but a 6-yard sack by senior linebacker Lavar Edwards ended the drive. LSU opened up its lead to 14-3 two and a half minutes later, running the ball on seven straight plays. Copeland punched the ball in from the 1 for the Tigers’ second touchdown of the game.
“We tried to protect Keith as best as we could today,” Sarkisian said.
LSU couldn’t keep the gas pedal fully pushed, getting stopped at the 1-yard line. In spite of the crowd’s urging, the Tigers settled for an 18-yard Drew Alleman field goal and a 17-3 lead.
The game wasn’t even that close, though. A third of the way through the second quarter, LSU had outgained Washington 181-18.
An Alleman 32-yard field goal pushed the lead to 20-3 with 5:03 to go in the second quarter. The lead could have been more, though, as receiver Russell Shepard dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone.
“Our quarterback played very well,” Miles said. “Kind of on the money. We eliminate those drops, we’re well over 200 yards passing.”
LSU took its first possession of the second half and put the game away, going up 27-3 on Kenny Hilliard’s 3-yard touchdown plunge.
The game could have tightened three plays earlier when a bubble screen to James Wright was dropped. Washington challenged the play, thinking it was dropped behind the line of scrimmage. But officials let the play stand and Hilliard scored the knockout punch.
LSU’s final scores came on a Mettenberger 32-yard touchdown pass to Kadron Boone and a Hilliard 1-yard touchdown.
“We wanted to play a very physical style of game tonight,” Miles said. “But a characteristic of our football team is we play physical football.”