Sophomore halfback Leonard Fournette tore through Texas Tech for five total touchdowns, as the LSU Tigers dismantled the Red Raiders 56-27 in the 2015 Texas Bowl. Fournette ran for four scores and caught a 44-yard pass for a fifth. He finished with 212 rushing yards on 29 carries and 256 total yards from scrimmage.
Fournette, who already broke the LSU single-season rushing record earlier this season, now also holds the program record for most touchdowns in a season. His five total touchdowns tied the NCAA bowl game record for most touchdowns from scrimmage.
Fournette set the tone on his second carry of the game, a 35-yard burst through the middle of the Texas Tech defense in which he flattened one defensive back, hurdled a second, and carried two other would-be tacklers for nearly ten yards.
Leonard Fournette is back everyone. pic.twitter.com/iMznb2TiOo— Matt Barbato (@RealMattBarbato) December 30, 2015
Fournette's second rushing touchdown, seven minutes into the second half with LSU's lead reduced to a single point, was one of his easiest of the season. He went untouched through the Texas Tech defense for 43 yards, showing that the 230-pound power back was also the fastest player on the field.
Even after Fournette's long touchdown run extended the LSU lead, Texas Tech stayed close to the Tigers, with quarterback Pat Mahomes scrambling away from LSU pass rushers and completing passes all over the field. Mahomes led the Red Raiders down the field on a 70-yard drive after Fournette's score. But on second-and-9 from the LSU 16, Mahomes' pass ricocheted off his would-be receiver's shoulder pad and into the arms of LSU defensive back Rickey Jefferson. Four plays later, Fournette had his third rushing touchdown of the night, and the rout was on.
Fournette was the Heisman Trophy frontrunner through the first two months of the season, before a 31-yard disaster against Alabama derailed his chances. Tuesday's performance should make Fournette the preseason favorite for college football's most famous award yet again. He will be widely considered the best player in arguably the nation's best conference, and his ability to create a highlight is almost unparalleled.
The stage is also set for an LSU renaissance. The Tigers are bringing back coach Les Miles. Fournette will be running behind an offensive line with four returning starters, and the LSU defense will lose only three senior starters. Quarterback remains an issue -- quarterback is always an issue with Miles -- but whoever is under center will have protection up front and weapons everywhere. LSU once again looks like a national contender, a scary proposition for its opponents.