LSU upsets No. 3 South Carolina
Facing third-ranked South Carolina with a decimated offensive line and coming off its first regular-season loss in 18 games, No. 9 LSU bullied the Gamecocks to the tune of 406 yards, had four sacks and added two interceptions to regain its footing in the race for a championship 23-21.
With 92,734 mostly gold-clad LSU fans screaming like there was no tomorrow, Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium came alive once again to give the Tigers a 22nd straight win at home and new life in the Southeastern Conference.
"That was Death Valley. That was the place where opponents' dreams come to die. It started early and it ended late," Les Miles said. "I recognize the great advantage that the team has in this stadium."
Miles earned an 81st victory in his 100th game as LSU's head coach, as the Tigers improved to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in SEC play.
Next week, LSU travels to Texas A&M's Kyle Field for the first time since 1995.
Running back Jeremy Hill led the way for LSU, as the freshman broke off a 50-yard touchdown run with 5:03 left that proved the game winner.
Hill ran 17 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns. LSU outran South Carolina 258-34 while Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore was held to 35 yards on 13 carries.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger finished 12-25 passing for 148 yards. He was sacked once and his lone interception was returned 70 yards to the LSU 1, leading to South Carolina's first touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.
However, it was Mettenberger's decision making and clutch play that helped LSU convert 11-19 third downs one week after struggling to stay on the field at Florida. After holding the ball for fewer than 22 minutes in the 14-6 loss in Gainesville last week, the Tigers offense turned the tables this week. LSU held a 36:57-23:03 advantage in time of possession.
"We only have two guys starting that started the first game with La'el [Collins] and P.J. [Lonergan]," Mettenberger said. "I thought the old man at left tackle [sixth-year senior Josh Dworaczyk] had a hell of a game, he was on [Jadeveon] Clowney all night. The two young guys, Vadal [Alexander] and Trai [Turner] played lights out. I think they're going to be a good combo in the future on the right side for sure."
Running back Spencer Ware added 55 yards on 15 carries for LSU, while Michael Ford ran seven times for 41 yards and Kenny Hilliard had 10 touches for 33 net yards. Jarvis Landry was LSU's leading receiver with 55 yards on four catches.
Defensively, Lamin Barrow had a career-best 12 tackles while Kevin Minter added nine. LSU had seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage including the four sacks. Sam Montgomery earned two of the sacks, while Barkevious Mingo and Josh Downs had one each. Eric Reid and Craig Loston each had interceptions.
South Carolina suffered its first loss of the season, falling to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC. The Gamecocks next travel to Gainesville for a matchup against Florida.
"Tonight I realized why LSU was preseason No. 1," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "They're a big, strong team. They can run the ball and stop the run. That was the biggest difference in the game probably. I don't know how many rushing yards they had, but I know we didn't have many at all. I give those guys credit."
Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw was 19-34 passing for 177 yards with two short touchdown passes. He was pressured throughout the game, suffering 30 yards of sack yardage while being hurried six more times.
The Gamecocks managed only 3-13 on third down.