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LSU shakes off sluggish first half, overwhelms FCS Furman

Last Modified: Saturday, October 26, 2013 11:26 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

BATON ROUGE — Noticeably absent from Tiger Stadium Saturday night was any hint of a “Bring on Bama” chant.

Lowly Furman seemed quite enough challenge for the longest time.

Mainly, LSU looked like a weary, disinterested team mostly wanting to bring on an open date this week — and No. 1 Alabama the next.

It wasn’t so bad in the end.

The No. 13 Tigers (7-2) shook off a sluggish first half and overwhelmed Football Championship Subdivision Furman with their most yards in 13 years to get to the open date with a 48-16 victory.

“That’s the way we’re supposed to look,” head coach Les Miles said after blanking the Paladins 28-0 in the second half and finishing with 672 yards total offense.

It was the Tigers’ most yards since getting 680 against Western Carolina in 2000 and the third most in school history. LSU’s usual suspects all got in on the action.

Zach Mettenberger needed 16 completions to throw for 328 yards and three touchdowns.

Odell Beckham caught six of them for 204 yards, including touchdowns of 37 and 63 yards, and Jarvis Landry added 87 yards on 5 catches.

Jeremy Hill ran for 143 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 55-yarder, while Terrence Magee added 111 yards and another two scores on seven carries, including a 39-yarder.

“Eventually we caught speed and played like we’re supposed to,” Miles said. “Second half the offense took control and defense played like they’re supposed to.”

But about that first half …

Mettenberger also threw the first pick-six of his career — giving Furman a 7-0 lead early on Reggie Thomas’ 74-yard return — and Beckham’s fumbled punt at his own 28 before the half gave the upstart Paladins a realistic chance to get to halftime with a tie score.

They didn’t — LSU’s defense forced a field goal after Furman had first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. But the heavily favored Tigers led 20-16 at the half.

“The game started sloppy,” Miles said. “The first-half score was not what we would like.

“Too many penalties. We cannot turn the ball over. It’s that simple. There’s things we have to eliminate.”

The LSU offense never had much problem moving the ball or, for the most part, holding on to it.

Getting it was another matter, at least in the first half.

Furman, which also had a 10-7 lead in the first quarter, put together several sustained drives and had a whopping first-half time of possession advantage of 22:09 to 7:51.

“I wish we could have gotten a TD at the end of the half,” Furman coach Bruce Fowler said. “I don’t know if it would have made much difference. We still had to manage the second half and we were obviously having trouble stopping them.

“Second half they kind of took over the game physically.”

LSU held the Paladins (3-5) to 49 yards in the second half while blanking them.

“I don’t know what was going on out there (in the first half),” LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander said. “But we got it together. Chief (defensive coordinator John Chavis) came in and told us what we needed to do. We went out there and played ball.

“We had our mind in the game a little more. We played a little more physical in the second half.”

LSU, which didn’t punt until emptying the bench in the final 5 minutes, got touchdowns the first four times it touched the ball in the second half on seemingly effortless drives of 84, 90, 69 and 83 yards.

The Tigers can now turn their attention to No. 1 Alabama in two weeks, in Tuscaloosa.

“We have been going since Aug. 2 without a break,” Mettenberger said. “We’re going to refocus, recharge our batteries. We are going to get ready for a battle in Tuscaloosa.”

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