LSU's much-maligned defense gave up 703 yards to Ole Miss in a loss last week, and has been the primary reason the Tigers fell out of the College Football Playoff race. But against Missouri, LSU's defense rose to the challenge at a crucial point of the game. With LSU (4-2, 3-1 SEC) up 42-39 and under one minute to play, defensive back Major Burns picked off Mizzou quarterback Brady Cook and took it 17 yards back for the score to ice away a massive road win over previously-unbeaten Missouri (5-1, 1-1) in Columbia, Missouri.
LSU's defense wasn't great. In fact, it was downright awful at times in a game in which it gave up 527 yards and 7.8 yards per play. But it stood strong when it mattered most. LSU's Harold Perkins Jr. picked off Cook late in the second quarter and the Tigers turned it into a touchdown six plays later to pull within 22-17 to get back into a game that was on its way to getting sideways. It was Cook's first interception in 365 attempts -- an SEC record and the fourth-most all-time.
LSU's offense kept its defense well-rested
If defense doesn't win championships anymore, LSU hopes that 'just enough' defense does. The Bayou Bengals got enough due in large part to their offense that was flat out filthy. Quarterback Jayden Daniels -- a Heisman Trophy candidate heading into the season -- re-announced his presence on the national scene with authority after throwing for 259 yards, tossing three touchdown passes, rushing for 131 yards and scoring once on the ground. He found a wide open Malik Nabers for a 29-yard touchdown with 2:58 left for the game-winning touchdown in what was the fifth -- and final -- lead change of a wild second half.
Additionally, running back Logan Diggs rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown. It was the first time LSU has had multiple players with 100 or more rushing yards and at least one rushing touchdown in the same game since 2017 when Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams did it against Texas A&M.
LSU still alive in wild SEC West
Is LSU back in the CFP race? Of course not. It's irresponsible to say that a team that is allergic to defense and has two losses (Florida State and Ole Miss) midway through the season has a shot at winning it all. However, it still has life in the SEC West. A loss to Ole Miss -- another contender -- certainly hurts, but there is no way that it could afford a second conference loss and have any shot at repeating as division champs.
It's clear that Daniels can make the offense click at an elite level. He's done it all season. The defense needs to provide just a little help in key spots. That's exactly what happened on Saturday. If coach Brian Kelly's squad builds off of this, there is a chance that the season could be saved.