BATON ROUGE, La. (WIS) - It simply wasn’t pretty.
South Carolina wasn’t able to stop freshman quarterback TJ Finley as he and his LSU teammates torched the Gamecocks for more than 500 yards of total offense on their way to a 52-24 win.
“We got outcoached and outplayed,” said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. “Call it like it is. Give them credit. They’ve got a talented team. We knew coming in here they had a big offensive line and some very talented backs. I was concerned about stopping the run, especially with a young quarterback. We knew they were going to go to that. We didn’t get off blocks, we didn’t tackle, and we just did not play the run very well at all and that created some things in the throwing game. We had to bring an extra guy in the box to stop the run and they hit some things in the passing game."
LSU took a methodical approach to their first drive. The Tigers put together 16 plays to march 75 yards against the Gamecocks to start the game with freshman quarterback TJ Finley sneaking into the end zone from one yard out. With that, the Tigers took the early 7-0 lead with 7:34 left in the period.
Carolina wasted little time to respond. On Carolina’s third play of their first drive, Kevin Harris motored 45 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the night to tie it at 7-7.
The Tigers put together another lengthy drive that resulted in points. This time, LSU utilized 10 plays before Cade York booted a 27-yard field goal through the uprights with 2:05 left in the quarter.
LSU held the ball for more than 12 minutes in the opening period.
“Hugely concerned,” Muschamp said when asked about how concerned he was about the Gamecocks’ defensive line spending most of the first quarter on the field. “A major issue coming into the game was the size of their offensive line and pushing us around. We got pushed around. We didn’t get off blocks. We didn’t tackle as well. We’ve got to go back and look at some things where we’ve got to be able to stop the run.”
The Tigers extended their lead in the second quarter. This time, Finley capped a 9-play, 65-yard drive with a 7-yard pass to Terrace Marshall Jr. making it a 17-7 lead.
Carolina got the stop they needed. With about seven minutes left in the half Finley was intercepted by Israel Mukuamu, who returned the pick 56 yards and got the ball into LSU territory. That led to a 45-yard Parker White field goal to cut it to a 17-10 game.
LSU added two more scores before the half. First, Finley and Marshall hooked up again with 3:43 left in the half on a 51-yard touchdown pass. That touchdown gave Marshall nine touchdown catches on the year and it also gave the Tigers a 24-10 lead.
Marshall had six catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Finley was 17-of-21 for 265 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
One minute later, Collin Hill was picked off by Eli Ricks and he returned it 45 yards pushing LSU ahead 31-10.
The Tigers posted 330 yards in the half while Carolina tallied just 188 yards.
Carolina got off to a good start in the second half. In the first series of the third quarter, Kevin Harris rattled off 49 yards on a carry to put the Gamecocks in LSU territory. Four plays later, Harris scored on a 1-yard carry making it a 31-17 game.
Harris finished with 126 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
On the ensuing kickoff, LSU got those points right back. Trey Palmer bobbled the ball only to pick it up and speed 95 yards to the end zone putting LSU up 38-17 with 11 minutes to go in the third. Ty Davis-Price tacked on one more score in the third for LSU pushing the lead to 45-17.
In all, LSU finished with 541 yards against the Gamecocks. Of those, 276 came on the ground for the Tigers.
LSU and South Carolina each added one more score to their tally.
South Carolina will have plenty to consider over the bye week before they return to action on Nov. 7 at home against Texas A&M.
“I just told the guys we’re going to start back to work on Tuesday morning," said Muschamp, “and we’ll give them a couple of days to get ready for the stretch run here and we’ll come back Tuesday and we’ll get ready to work.”