BATON ROUGE — LSU used its new wide-open offense to full advantage Saturday night.
The Tigers never really flirted with the ultimate disaster against outmanned Northwestern State.
Instead, LSU was in a mad-cap second-half scramble to get the scoreboard up to specs for the nation’s No. 4 team.
Mission accomplished, sort of, as the Tigers threw together 41 points in the second half for a properly lopsided 65-14 victory.
LSU fans’ latest heartthrob, quarterback Joe Burrow, had his way carving up the Demons’ defense, throwing for 373 yards while completing 21 of 24 passes for 373 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Outstanding,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said
Burrow probably played a little longer than most anticipated in what looked for a brief spell like a budding shootout reminiscent of last week’s wild victory over Texas. Burrow didn’t take a seat until after driving the to the Tigers to a touchdown with 6:26 in the third quarter that put LSU up 44-14.
“He didn’t want to come out,” Orgeron said of his quarterback. “We had to, though. He needed the rest. He had a minor injury this week.”
History will record that LSU rang up 610 yards of offense and backup quarterback Myles Brennan was 8 of 9 for 115 yards, even though it was much later in the game than most anticipated — the waning moments of the third quarter — before he was entrusted with the keys to the offense.
Few will remember that the Tigers left at halftime to a smattering of boos, mostly directed at a depleted defense that was missing four starters.
“I didn’t raise my voice that much at halftime,” Orgeron said. “I just wanted to make sure we played the full 60 minutes.”
The Tigers (3-0) were never really slowed down.
But somebody forget to tell the Demons (0-3) that they scored only one touchdown in a 33-7 loss last week to something called Midwestern State.
“I have to give credit to Northwestern,” Orgeron said. “They came in here with a real good game plan. Getting rid of the ball fast, running those slants.
You’ve got to give them credit. That quarterback (Shelton Eppler) was on fire. They were getting those slant routs.
“I think we were playing a little too far off on those. Give credit to our defense for shutting them down in the second half. Coach (Dave) Aranda worked hard at halftime. We had to face some adversity.”
The Demons, who had 200 yards and both touchdowns at the half, were held to 78 yards and no points in the second half.
“We played more man to man,” Orgeron said of the adjustments. “ The zones weren’t’ working. You saw us breaking on the ball a little big faster.”
Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Tyrion David-Price ran for two touchdowns apiece and John Emery added another for the rare running game highlights.
“They were stuffing us up front,” Orgeron said of the meager 122 yards on the ground the Tigers managed. “We got to look at the film. There were some things we weren’t blocking right.
“We didn’t look very good on both lines of scrimmage early on.”
Freshmen had the Tigers’ final four scores, including Trey Palmer’s 36-yard punt return for a touchdown on the first touch of his college career.
The Demons led the Tigers 7-3 at the end of the first quarter when the Demons scored their first touchdown in 12 trips to LSU dating to 1911.
LSU quickly took the lead for good on Edwards-Helaire’s 4-yard run, but the Demons wouldn’t go away.
They scored again on Eppler’s second touchdown pass, this time to a wide-open David Fitswater from 27 yards out.
They had a chance to make it closer at the half after an interception of Burrow’s worst pass and decision of the season set them up at the Tigers’ 17 yards line with 58 seconds to play in the half.
But the LSU defense shut them down and Scotty Roblow missed a 34-yard field goal attempt.