BATON ROUGE, La. — Ed Orgeron held both arms in the air as he emerged from the Tiger Stadium tunnel for his first game as LSU’s interim coach. Derrius Guice’s long, crowd-thrilling touchdown runs ensured Orgeron would leave Death Valley in an even better mood.
In LSU’s first game since the firing of coach Les Miles, and with star running back Leonard Fournette sidelined with ankle soreness, Guice rushed for a career-high 163 yards and three touchdowns, leading LSU to a 42-7 victory over Missouri on Saturday night.
“You could feel the electricity in the stadium,” said Orgeron, a Louisiana native, who walked off the field beaming after his players gave him a celebratory drenching with a bucket of sports drink and handed him a game ball. “This is Tiger Stadium. This is what it’s supposed to be.”
Guice scored the game’s first touchdown on a zig-zagging, 42-yard run in which he left several would-be tacklers grasping at air before using his speed to race away for the final yards. He added TDs from 4 and 37 yards before the first half ended.
Orgeron “has got everybody flying around the field,” Guice said.
“We did everything faster tonight,” Guice added. “That allowed us to make big plays in the running game, including some that the offensive line broke open.”
Darrel Williams added a career-high 130 yards and three short touchdowns for LSU (3-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference), which finished with 418 yards on the ground.
“I’m glad they won and glad they performed well because now they can believe in what we’re doing,” Orgeron said.
Missouri (2-3, 0-2) struggled to sustain drives and didn’t score until executing a reverse pass from receiver Eric Laurent to quarterback Drew Lock with 6:11 left in the game. LSU dominated time of possession, 42:33 to 17:27 and ran 82 plays to Missouri’s 60. LSU also finished with 634 yards — the school record for an SEC game— to Missouri’s 265.
“They handed it to us in every area. I feel like I got my tail kicked tonight and we did as a program,” first-year Mizzou coach Barry Odom said. “I have great belief with all my soul that we’re a much better football team than that and we will be going forward.”
Lock limited LSU’s formidable pass rush to two sacks by throwing quickly. But LSU’s secondary didn’t allow many easy throws. Lock, who came in averaging 377 yards passing, finished 17 of 37 for 167 yards and was intercepted once by Tre’Davious White on a long, over-thrown pass.
Miles, arguably the most successful coach in LSU history after winning 77 percent of his games — including the 2007 national title — in 11-plus seasons, was fired last Sunday, the day after an 18-13 loss at Auburn. That game marked the second time this season LSU’s offense looked stagnant in a loss to an underdog that was not ranked at the time of the game.
Orgeron promised stylistic changes under new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and delivered early with four receiver sets and enough passes to keep Missouri’s defense honest. But statistically, LSU looked a lot like some of Miles’ most dominant teams, with more yards and scoring on the ground than through the air.
LSU QB Danny Etling completed 19 of 30 passes for 216 yards and did not turn the ball over.
“We spread them out a little bit,” Orgeron said. “We started throwing the football, loosened them up on the run.”
MISSOURI: Stats can be deceiving. Mizzou’s offense, which came into the game leading the SEC, has looked far less prolific against teams from Power 5 conferences than the overmatched Eastern Michigan and Delaware State of the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision.
LSU: Miles is out as coach but there’s no questioning the talent he brought in. It’s clear LSU was ready to play under Orgeron and could be a tough out for its remaining opponents.
Each team had a player ejected for targeting and each team had another player thrown out under a new rule in college football that sends players to the locker room for two personal fouls in a game. LSU’s Xavier Lewis and Missouri’s Brandon Lee were ejected for targeting. LSU offensive lineman Andy Dodd and Missouri defensive lineman Charles Harris were ejected in the second half for unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. Those fouls counted as their second personal fouls because every player on both teams had been assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for a brief scuffle near midfield at the end of the first half.
After falling out of the AP Poll last week, LSU could very well jump right back into the ranking with its emphatic rebound from its last-second lost at Auburn.
MISSOURI: After a bye next weekend, Missouri will visit Florida on Oct. 15.
LSU: A clash with historical rival Florida in the Swamp next weekend is on tap for LSU, marking the first road game of the Orgeron era.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org