. Leonard Fournette broke LSU’s single-game rushing record on just his first eight carries – scoring three touchdowns of 59 yards or more – and the 25th-ranked Tigers beat No. 23 Mississippi 38-21 on Saturday night.
Fournette finished with 284 yards rushing in his first action since aggravating a left ankle injury on Sept. 24. The speed and force with which he carried the ball left little doubt about how good he feels now. His touchdowns went for 78, 76 and 59 yards. He averaged 17.8 yards on 16 carries.
The victory puts LSU (5-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) at 3-0 under interim coach Ed Orgeron, who replaced Les Miles when the Tigers were 2-2.
Since Orgeron took over and promoted Steve Ensminger to offensive coordinator, the Tigers have demonstrated a penchant for big plays. They had four TDs of 40 or more yards against the Rebels, including Danny Etling’s 40-yard pass to D.J. Chark.
LSU finished with 515 total yards against Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3), which saw its chances of getting back into the SEC West race take a huge hit.
Chad Kelly, who came in averaging an SEC-best 308.2 yards passing, was intercepted twice and sacked twice. He finished 19 of 32 for 209 yards and one touchdown. Kelly capped Ole Miss’ opening drive with a 15-yard scoring pass to Van Jefferson, and the Rebels briefly led 10-0 before Fournette came rumbling through the right side of LSU’s offensive line for his 59-yard score.
Fournette’s 76-yard run put the Tigers up 21-13, but Marquis Haynes’ sack and strip of Etling gave Ole Miss the ball on the LSU nine. Three plays later, the Rebels tied it at 21 when Akeem Judd scored from 2 yards out and Ole Miss added a 2-point conversion on Kelly’s keeper.
But Fournette’s 78-yarder, which gave him 249 yards on his first seven carries, put the Tigers up for good. Derrius Guice iced it with a 6-yard TD.
Mississippi: The Rebels’ defense is sprinkled with big-play talent, but the unit as a whole doesn’t consistently play together and gives up too many big plays and too many points. In all of their losses, they’ve allowed more than 30 points and LSU’s first four TDs went for 40 or more yards.
LSU: Fournette certainly made up for lost time. His performance puts him right back in Heisman Trophy consideration. To stay there, he'll have to keep it up against Alabama, which held him to 31 yards on 19 carries last season in Tuscaloosa.
LSU, which just got back into the AP Top 25 poll last week, should continue to move up. Ole Miss, which was the only three-loss team in the poll, is unlikely to remain ranked.
Mississippi: The Rebels hosts surging Auburn next Saturday.
LSU: The Tigers get next weekend off before hosting the top-ranked Crimson Tide in what could be a pivotal game in both teams’ seasons.