Since the beginning of Les Miles' tenure, the LSU Tigers have been nearly untouchable in night home games, boasting the kind of win rate that appropriately befits a place named Death Valley.
Evidently, someone forgot to tell the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who not only stormed into Baton Rouge and won, but did so in heartstopping, edge-of-your-seat 34-29 fashion. The Bulldogs joined some elite company with that victory, becoming only the fourth team -- 2005 Tennessee, 2009 Florida and 2012 Alabama are the others -- to beat LSU in Tiger Stadium at night under Miles.
So, how did they accomplish the feat, which had eluded so many teams before them?
Simple. Big plays. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 17-0 lead with explosiveness, picking up gains of 66 yards, 44 yards, 26 and 25 yards during their first three scoring drives, on their way to averaging 9.06 yards per play through two quarters. Some uncharacteristically sloppy LSU tackling helped.
That pattern would continue on through the second half, when Dak Prescott -- who finished with 15-of-24 passing for 268 yards and two touchdowns, plus another 105 yards and a score on the ground -- made up for a fumble with ... this:
... and then this:
MSU led, 31-10, after those two highlights, and the three-touchdown margin proved just enough, despite a furious charge from the Tigers. LSU took advantage of a late turnover to close to within five, but no further.
LSU had the ball for a last-gasp Hail Mary from midfield, only to fall just short, with Brandon Harris' pass intercepted at the goal line.
It wasn't just the Prescott show, of course -- he had help from Josh Robinson's 197 rushing yards and a ferocious defensive performance -- but he was definitely the hero.
Three things we learned
1. LSU has some problems on offense(?) ... They'll have one more tuneup game against New Mexico State before the meat of SEC play begins, but their only two games against Power 5 teams have resulted in decidedly paltry offensive showings. They went 2-of-13 on third downs against MSU, and against both the Bulldogs and Wisconsin, LSU ran for below three yards a carry. That being said, they did start seeing some results when they inserted Brandon Harris over Anthony Jennings late in the fourth quarter -- the freshman backup immediately led two touchdown drives, sparking the late comeback hopes. Could he see more time next week?
2. MSU is poised to cause some trouble in the SEC. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Bulldogs had only played Southern Mississippi, UAB, and South Alabama, ringing up a trio of wins that didn't reveal a ton about their actual talent level. That excuse is no longer on the table, since a performance like this one -- storming into Death Valley, at night -- causes people everywhere to take notice. It might be too soon to pencil MSU in for victories over No. 5 Auburn or No. 6 Texas A&M the next two weeks, but they certainly can't be counted out.
3. Dak. Freakin. Prescott. Any and all Heisman hype at this point in the season is sure to be premature, but Prescott's game on Saturday night, a complete effort on the ground and through the air, has to put him on the voting radar at least a tad. He even racked up several "Heisman moments," those ever-elusive highlights that determine one's contendership ... or lack of it.