Saturday, September 26, 2020, marked the return of SEC football to the college football landscape. It also marked the beginning of LSU’s national title defense after going 15-0 in 2019 and setting all kinds of records along the way. But there was an Air Raid over Death Valley on Saturday that foiled that title defense.
A very potent passing attack known as the Air Raid was unleashed in Baton Rouge by Mike Leach, head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and orchestrated by transfer-quarterback K.J. Costello.
Air Raid Over Death Valley
Costello threw 60 passes, completing 36 for an SEC single-game record 623 yards and 5 touchdowns, leading the Bulldogs to a 44-34 win over the 6th-ranked and defending national champion Tigers. He did throw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Costello threw touchdown passes to four different receivers:
- WR Osirus Mitchell: 7 catches, 183 yards, 2 TDs
- RB Kylin Hill: 8 catches, 158 yards, 1 TD
- WR Tyrell Shavers: 2 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD
- WR Austin Williams: 7 catches, 57 yards, 1 TD
Three of those touchdowns came on 3rd down. The Bulldogs were 8 of 16 on 3rd down conversions.
Coming into the game, LSU had won 16 straight games, the longest active winning streak in the nation. And, Mississippi State had beaten the Tigers only three times since 1999.
The Bulldogs were 8 of 16 on 3rd down conversions, scoring three touchdowns. They rushed for only 9 yards in the game.
Not an Auspicious Start for the Defending Champs
The LSU defense did force four turnovers: 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. They recorded 5 sacks and seven tackles for loss. But then there were times where LSU looked unprepared, on both sides of the ball.
Against the pass, they were out of position to make plays, recording only 8 passes defended. 88 offensive plays by the Bulldogs took its toll on the Tigers defense, resulting in poor tackling.
On offense, LSU quarterback Myles Brennan was running for his life seemingly all day. The Tigers allowed seven sacks and seven tackles for loss. Brennan was 27 of 46 for 345 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, completing less than 60% of his passes.
Brennan’s top target was WR Terrace Marshall. Marshall hauled in eight passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman TE Arik Gilbert also caught a touchdown pass.
The Tigers are running back by committee this season, using a trio of ball carriers. LSU rushed for 80 yards in the game and no touchdowns, averaging a paltry 2 yards per carry against an unranked Mississippi State team that allowed 152 yards a game rushing in the SEC last season.
LSU was missing a starter on defense. CB Derek Stingley Jr. did not play after being hospitalized with an illness. The illness was reported as not being related to the coronavirus. He was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital, but his status is unknown.
10.3.20 LSU at Vanderbilt
10.3.20 Arkansas at Mississippi State
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Stats provided by ESPN.com.