GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – LSU looked dead on arrival as the third quarter opened Saturday in the Lambeau Field College Classic Saturday afternoon, but two Tiger touchdowns in 67 seconds turned a 13-0 deficit into a 14-13 lead over Wisconsin, and everything looked back to normal.
In the end, though, No. 5 LSU died again later in a 16-14 loss to the unranked Badgers on a 47-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone with 3:47 to play.
LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White of Shreveport turned the game around with two takeaways over just four plays in the third quarter. His first was an interception of Wisconsin quarterback Bart Houston at the Badger 21. He quickly reversed his field and scored virtually untouched, cutting Wisconsin’s lead to 13-7 with 5:28 to go after the extra point by Colby Delahoussaye.
White’s teammates alertly pushed White away from the end zone seats – home of the “Lambeau Leap” after touchdowns by the tenant Green Bay Packers. White had said he wanted to do such a leap, but they were strictly ruled out by Coach Les Miles last week because of the 15-yard penalty that follows such exploits in the college game.
The Tigers got the ball back just three scrimmage plays later as Wisconsin wide receiver George Rushing fumbled after making a catch when cornerback Donte Jackson stripped the ball. White recovered for LSU at the Wisconsin 47 and returned it six yards to the 41.
LSU quarterback Brandon Harris found tailback Leonard Fournette on a wheel route for 31 yards, then hit wide receiver Travin Dural for a 10-yard touchdown with 4:21 to play for the 14-13 lead. But it didn’t last.
BADGERS DOMINATE FIRST HALF, EARLY THIRD: Wisconsin led 6-0 at the half as it outgained the Tigers 180 to 64 and held the ball for 21 minutes and 52 seconds to 8:08. LSU opened the second half with the ball, but punted three plays later. Then the Badgers shredded LSU’s defense as if it was melted cheese, covering 58 yards in five plays for a touchdown and 13-0 lead with 10:55 to play in the period.
Finally, a ray of LSU light touched the warm tundra of this sacred stadium as Fournette busted a 30-yard run to the Wisconsin 49-yard line, marking just the Tigers’ second appearance in Wisconsin territory. It was also Fournette’s longest run at the time by 21 yards as he was held to 35 yards on 11 carries in the first half and failed to get anything on a fourth-and-one play at the LSU 45 late in the first half.
After the stuff of Fournette, Wisconsin promptly drove 15 yards in five plays for a 48-yard field goal by Gaglianone and the 6-0 lead with 54 seconds to go before halftime. Gaglianone put the Badgers up 3-0 with 4:13 to go in the second quarter on a 30-yard field goal that was set up by LSU tailback Derrius Guice’s fumble on the LSU 36.
Fournette followed the 30-yard jaunt with rushes of eight and nine yards to the Wisconsin 32. But the drive stalled, and LSU’s Josh Growden punted to the Wisconsin 4 – just before White’s interception return.
TRAVONTE VALENTINE DEBUT: The sophomore transfer nose guard did not start the game. Junior Greg Gilmore did, but Valentine entered the game in the first series, started the second series and played throughout the game. He finished with three tackles and did appear winded at times.
INJURY REPORT: Wisconsin took its 13-0 lead early in the third quarter with two starters out of the game with injuries. Sophomore inside linebacker Chris Orr and sophomore left guard Micah Kapok each left the game in the first half with leg injuries and did not return.
LSU tailback Leonard Fournette hurt his ankle on a 15-yard run on the Tigers’ final drive for a first down at the Wisconsin 30 with just over a minute to play and Wisconsin leading 16-14. Fournette limped off the field. After a false start penalty against LSU, Harris threw an interception to safety D’Cota Dixon with 57 seconds to play to seal the game as Wisconsin ran out the clock.
Miles said Fournette was going to return to the game had LSU got the ball back.
“Oh, absolutely,” Miles said. “I don’t see it keeping him from playing.”
JOSH BOUTTE EJECTED: LSU senior starting right guard Josh Boutte was ejected from the game with 57 seconds to play for a flagrant personal foul. He clotheslined Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon after Dixon made a game saving interception. Dixon went down after the interception and then started running.
Miles said Boutte may have thought Dixon was still returning the interception.
“I’m going to have to look at it, but it’s very logical he didn’t know he was down and was just running,” Miles said. “Until I see the film, I don’t know. He’s not a malicious guy. I just can’t imagine he saw him down and went and made a tackle.”
According to SEC rule, Boutte has to be suspended for LSU’s next game, which will be Saturday against Jacksonville State in Tiger Stadium. The SEC office can rule otherwise, though, upon studying the film.
Dixon did not appear to be hurt on the play as he got up quickly and celebrated. Concussions, though, are sometimes not discovered until later.
42-0 STREAK SNAPPED: Miles’ 42-0 non-conference regular season winning streak was snapped by Wisconsin. LSU’s last non-conference regular season loss was to Virginia Tech, 26-8, in the season opener on Sept. 1, 2002, when Nick Saban was LSU’s coach. Miles had won his first 11 season openers as LSU’s coach.