It all started in typical LSU coach Les Miles fashion.
Facing fourth down and four yards away from the first down marker, LSU caught the Wisconsin special teams unit off guard with a direct snap to sophomore linebacker Kendll Beckwith for a first down that would prove to set the tone for the rest of the game.
LSU sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings found sophomore wide receiver Travin Dural for a 44-yard strike to set up a field goal for the Tigers’ first points of what would turn into a 21-point rally.
“We felt like we had to make a play and we didn’t have the right personnel in the stinking game,” Miles said. “I was madder than hell. It was a right call and it was a right time and we had Kendell Beckwith with the ball and I think those are... positives and the momentum change at that point was significant.”
The Tigers struck again after their defense forced their first of three 3-and-outs in the second half with another field goal to cut the Badgers’ lead to 11 points before the fourth quarter.
That’s when LSU made its big move.
Facing third down and 21, it seemed the Tigers were poised to settle for yet another field goal when freshman wide receiver John Diarse grabbed a pass from Jennings 10 yards short of the first first down, shook off a pair of tackles and avoided another as he sped down the sideline for a touchdown to make the game 24-19.
“After the catch, I can’t even explain what happened,” Diarse said. “I just give all the glory to God, because I don’t know what happened. Next thing I knew I was in the end zone.”
Jennings then found freshman wide receiver Trey Quinn wide open for a two-point conversion to bring the Tigers to within a field goal with 12:08 remaining in the game.
LSU senior running back Kenny Hilliard took matters into his own hands after an interception by junior cornerback Jalen Millson the ensuing drive, as he ran the ball three times for 53 yards and the score that finally gave the Tigers’ their long-awaited first lead of the game.
Hilliard would eventually put a cap on LSU’s 28-24 victory, earning a first down that allowed Jennings to take a knee and kill the clock. He finished the game with 111 yards on 18 carries.
“Kenny Hilliard ran the ball great tonight,” Jennings said. “That is one of the great backs we have here. He is going to continue to do great things.”
Miles said the victory said a lot about the character of this LSU team, and that it reacted to adversity exactly the way he expected and wanted it to.
“We’re a blue collar team that will fight like hell and get in competitive games and scrap you,” Miles said. “This was one of those times.”