LSU's first 11 a.m. non-conference kickoff went as expected – a sluggish start, some sloppy penalties and a lethargic Tiger Stadium.
But eventually, the Tigers knocked the cobwebs out their eyes and defeated Utah State 42-6.
After a much maligned start to the season, LSU’s defense had arguably its best performance of the season. The Tigers limited Utah State and quarterback Jordan Love, a projected first round pick in the 2020 NFL draft, to 159 yards of total offense.
LSU finished with 10 tackles for a loss, three interceptions and two sacks. Sophomore linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson returned as well after suffering an injury against Texas.
“We went out there and probably played our most complete game,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron. “We ran the football like we wanted to run it, we controlled the clock, kept the ball with our offense.
“Our defense tackled well in space, and I thought we played lights out on defense to hold those guys without a touchdown.”
Three of Utah State’s six points came due to an interception by LSU senior quarterback Joe Burrow that was returned to LSU’s 6-yard line. On third-and-goal, junior defensive end Neil Farrell sacked Love for a loss of seven, forcing a field goal by Eberle Dominik.
Utah State’s defense came up with another big play, stopping LSU on fourth-and-1 at the Utah State 35-yard line. On the next play, Love found Siaosi Mariner downfield for a 35-yard gain, but the LSU defense pulled together once more and forced another field goal.
Burrow and LSU’s offense bounced back with an impressive second quarter. Burrow kept the ball on a quarterback sneak to extend LSU’s lead to 14-6.
Then freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. made an acrobatic interception at the 1-yard line. Burrow led a 13-play, 99-yard drive, capped off by a 25-yard touchdown to sophomore receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
With a 21-6 lead, LSU’s defense began suffocating Utah State.
The Tigers forced four straight punts and allowed just 41 yards on Utah State’s next four possessions. On Utah State’s next two possessions, both junior defensive backs Kary Vincent and Grant Delpit intercepted their first passes of the season.
Defensively, junior linebacker Patrick Queen led LSU with six tackles and three tackles for a loss. Orgeron said he felt Queen played his best game on Saturday, and senior defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko said Queen made the defensive line’s job easier.
“We have so many great players on this defense,” Fehoko said, “guys that are going to have futures on the next level, and I just told everybody, ‘when you play to the standard of LSU football, you don’t play for nobody else but those three letters on your chest.’”
Backed by an impressive defensive outing, LSU’s offense continued to do what it’s done all season long. Burrow threw three second half touchdowns – two to junior receiver Justin Jefferson and the other to junior tight end Thaddeus Moss.
Burrow finished with five touchdowns, an interception and 344 yards on 27-of-38 passing to go along with 42 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries. Jefferson led all receivers with nine catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
Burrow now has 22 passing touchdowns this season, tying him for third all-time in school history with Zach Mettenberger (2013) and Tommy Hodson (1989). Burrow's six touchdowns tied his school-record that he set against Vanderbilt and UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.
LSU returns to Tiger Stadium next weekend and will play Florida at 7 p.m. on Saturday.