LSU fell to Mississippi State in their instant-classic season opener on Saturday, with a final score of 44-34.
Mississippi State jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter with one of many strong drives from KJ Costello, culminating in a Brandon Ruiz 35-yard field goal. LSU’s offense struggled all throughout the first quarter. They managed just 12 rushing yards, and Myles Brennan was only 3/6 passing for 27 yards. This was the first time LSU had not scored in an quarter since the third quarter of last year’s Alabama super matchup, as well as the first time they had not scored in the first quarter since the messy game against Auburn last season.
The second quarter brought a lot more electric plays for the Tigers and the Bulldogs. A huge interception by linebacker Jabril Cox returned for a touchdown has been heralded as a key cog in the Tiger defense, and with his defensive touchdown. However, Costello kept his composure and led another strong drive down the field, this time capping it with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Shavers, putting the Bulldogs back in front.
LSU responded with a quick 2:19 touchdown drive, with a big throw downfield by Brennan to Jaray Jenkins for a 47-yard completion, followed by a two-yard jump-ball touchdown pass to Arik Gilbert, giving the freshman his first touchdown of his LSU career.
But Costello and the passing attack were not done with the Tigers for the half. A misjudged play by freshman cornerback Elias Ricks gave Costello a window to touch pass a ball to Osirus Mitchell, who ran easily to the end zone for another Bulldog touchdown. Mississippi State led LSU at halftime, 17-14.
LSU received the ball to start the second half and changed the tempo of their offense. The Tigers started to run the ball more, and Brennan gained more confidence with his passes. They traded field goals with Mississippi State for the first half of the quarter, but then the offense continued their pace to score another touchdown on a Brennan 37-yard touchdown pass to Terrace Marshall Jr, giving LSU their first lead of the game at 24-20. The next play from scrimmage, Costello hit preseason All-SEC running back Kylin Hill down the sideline, and after a bad missed tackle by Todd Harris Jr., scored with ease, putting the Bulldogs back in front.
It looked as though the Tigers’ offense was finally getting into rhythm, until Brennan’s elbow was hit as he was throwing a deep ball to an open Racey McMath, and Esaias Furdge intercepted the pass. Mississippi State extended their lead with another Costello touchdown to Austin Williams, 34-24, and it seemed like the Tigers would never recover.
But, a massive interception by Elias Ricks set up an even more impressive one-handed 33-yard touchdown catch by Terrace Marshall Jr from Brennan. Next drive, on the first play, LSU’s defensive captain and No. 7 honoree JaCoby Stevens sacked Costello, forced a fumble, and recovered the ball setting up a game-tying Cade York 40-yard field goal.
Even this remarkable series of events was not enough to save LSU from an abysmal day from their secondary. Costello led the team to another field goal and touchdown, finishing any hope of the Tigers chances of preserving their 16-game win streak. He finished with a whopping 623 yards passing, five passing touchdowns, and two interceptions. Costello set the all-time single game SEC passing record with his performance. Brennan, on the opposite side, finished with 345 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.
LSU will travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt next Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 PM CT.