Burrow, No. 10 LSU open up offense in 42-10 win over Rice
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — When Joe Burrow found freshman receiver Ja’Marr Chase deep down the left sideline to the Rice 2, it marked the LSU’s quarterback’s 11th completion of 15 or more yards.
And that was before five minutes had elapsed in the third quarter.
Burrow passed for a career-high 307 yards and two touchdowns in less than three quarters, and No. 10 LSU rolled to a 42-10 victory over struggling Rice on Saturday night.
“For the confidence of this offense, it was important for us to click tonight,” Burrow said. “We wanted to move the ball without any hesitation or road blocks. For the most part, I think we did that.”
The Tigers (9-2, No. 7 CFP) led 35-3 midway through the third quarter en route to a victory in which the only drama involved whether LSU would cover a point spread hovering around 44 points before kickoff.
The question now is whether the kind of passing proficiency Burrow and Co. achieved against a team on an 11-game skid translates in a meaningful way in a relatively high-stakes Southeastern Conference finale at Texas A&M next weekend. With a victory in that game, LSU can clinch its first 10-win season under coach Ed Orgeron — and virtually ensure a New Year’s Day bowl bid
“No question, we’ve got to put the ball in athletes’ hands in space and we did a better job of that tonight,” Orgeron said. “Obviously, it was against a lesser opponent. We’re going to have to do a better job against a bigger opponent, but that’s the kind of offense we need.”
Burrow’s touchdowns went for 38 yards to Stephen Sullivan and 13 yards to senior tight end Foster Moreau, who finished with career highs of five catches and 71 yards receiving.
Nick Brossette rushed for two touchdowns for LSU, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Lanard Fournette also ran for short TDs.
The Owls (1-11) scored their first points on Haden Tobola’s 51-yard field goal late in the first half. Juma Otoviano scored Rice’s lone touchdown on a 5-yard run with 2:55 to play.
Rice QB Shawn Stankavage completed seven of 13 passes for 101 yards.
“We played hard for four quarters,” Rice coach Mike Bloomgren said. “We definitely could have played better and we need to play better.”
LSU outgained Rice 552 yards to 198. LSU defenders combined for four sacks, one each by linebackers Devin White and Jacob Phillips and defensive tackles Tyler Shelvin and Glen Logan
“We would have a lineman get whipped up front or something went wrong and those things are hard,” Bloomgren said. “It is hard to be behind the sticks in Death Valley against that defense.”
Rice also set up for a field goal after LSU running back Jontre Kirkland’s fumble gave Rice the ball on the Tigers 35 in the first quarter, but Jack Fox’s 52-yard attempt sailed wide left.
Rice: Bloomgren, who is in his first season at Rice, spoke enthusiastically about the opportunity to take his team into LSU’s Tiger Stadium, but reality set in pretty quickly. Bloomgren’s rebuilding program wasn’t likely to keep this game close unless LSU had come out flat. But Rice played a relatively clean game, committing no turnovers and just three penalties.
LSU: With painful and relatively fresh memories of the Tigers’ upset loss to Troy last season, Orgeron wanted to see his team take the field with energy, effort and focus. He also wanted to open up the offense to give that side of the ball more confidence heading into a challenging season finale. He got more or less what he wanted. And the big third-quarter lead allowed him to take a look at reserves who could wind up in bigger roles in upcoming seasons.
LSU backup quarterback Myles Brennan replaced Burrow in the middle of the third quarter, completing four of six passes for 65 yards, including a 39-yard pass down the right sideline to Justin Jefferson.
Brennan, who had not previously played this season, will be eligible to take a redshirt and preserve a season of college eligibility under new NCAA rules.
Rice hosts Old Dominion on Saturday.
LSU visits Texas A&M on Saturday night.