Home Sports College football: LSU pounds Mississippi State

College football: LSU pounds Mississippi State

By Harrison Valentine, LSU Digital Media Graduate Assistant

STARKVILLE — Quarterback Jayden Daniels and wide receiver Malik Nabers were an unstoppable force for an LSU offense that accounted for 530 total yards on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium, leading the No. 14 Tigers past Mississippi State 41-14 in the SEC opener.

Completing his first 13 passes of the game, Daniels found a rhythm early and never slowed down, recording his ninth career 300-yard passing game, finishing 30-of-34 for 361 yards and four total touchdowns, two coming through the air and two on the ground.

In the first half, Daniels and Nabers put on an offensive clinic. Nabers was targeted 10 times and reeled in 10 catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns, finishing the game with 13 targets and 13 catches for 239 yards. Daniels went into the break 21-of-22 with 255 yards and two touchdowns, en route to his best collegiate performance to date.

Canceling out the noise, both literally and proverbially, was a point of emphasis all week. Whether it was criticism or cowbells, it was the mindset of the team, said head coach Brian Kelly, that allowed the Tigers to block out the distractions and play four quarters of LSU Football.

Before the game, Kelly’s message was simple: start fast, build momentum, and leave no doubt. Message received.

“Our team, from my perspective, was prepared and excited to be playing on the road against a quality opponent,” Kelly said postgame. “I loved the way they thought about this trip. You can look at it as an early morning start and an hour bus ride, or you can look at it as a great opportunity.”

“We wanted to start fast,” Nabers added postgame. “We knew it was going to be an early game. We came out here with the right mindset.”

History was made as Nabers’ first half performance tied Josh Reed for the best half by an LSU receiver. Reed also had 10 receptions against Alabama in 2001, finishing that game with 19 receptions, which is a single-game record for an LSU wideout. Nabers also recorded four catches of 25+ yards in the first half, which was the most for an LSU player in the opening half of a game since Ja’Marr Chase in 2019 vs. Vanderbilt.

“We targeted him 13 times last week, so it’s not like he hasn’t been targeted,” Kelly said. “I think we were a little bit more accurate with some of the throws. I thought Jayden did a great job of seeking out Malik in those matchups and getting him the ball.”

The passing game made a statement, but the LSU defense did too, limiting Will Rogers and Mississippi State to 201 yards of offense in the game, with 107 coming through the air and 94 from the rushing attack. LSU’s front seven dominated in the trenches, especially in the first half, as the Bulldogs took just 79 yards of offense into the break, most of which coming from a 52-yard rush from running back Woody Marks. 

With Omar Speights unavailable, true freshman linebacker Whit Weeks got the start alongside junior Greg Penn III. Weeks made the first two tackles of the game for the Tigers and finished with a team-leading eight, along with a QB hurry. Sophomore Harold Perkinsfinished with four tackles, one sack, and one pass breakup. Mekhi WingoSai’vion Jones and Major Burnsall recorded sacks as well.

“Whit can run,” Kelly said. “He can go sideline to sideline. If he sees an open gap, he’s going to take it. Greg Penn knows the defense. He’s assignment correct. He’s a main cog and the guys really feel comfortable with him out there.”

With the win, LSU improves to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Mississippi State falls to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the SEC.

The Tigers return to Death Valley on Saturday night to host Arkansas for a 6 p.m. CT kick on ESPN.