The LSU football team accumulated the third-most yards in school history as it defeated outmanned Furman 48-16 in its homecoming game Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Neither the yardage nor the final score, though, was indicative of how the game went, at least for a half.
The 672 yards were the most gained by the Tigers since 2000 and helped mask a performance that featured some familiar problems.
The Tigers had three turnovers — two of which led to 10 Paladins points — as they continued without a turnover-free game through nine contests.
They had trouble getting off the field as they allowed a pair of 13-play drives for Furman’s other two scores, which was consistent with inconsistent defensive play this season.
In addition, lingering injuries to offensive linemen La’el Collins and Elliott Porter led to a shuffling of that unit and an erratic offensive performance in the first half.
An in-game injury to the most reliable Tiger — place-kicker Colby Delahoussaye — preceded his first two missed kicks of the season.
There was plenty of sloppiness to go around but, when it was all said and done, LSU had two 100-yard rushers (Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee, who each scored two touchdowns) and the defense allowed just three field goals and pitched a second-half shutout.
It also had a 200-yard receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. His two touchdowns offset his muffed punt that led to a Paladins field goal that left LSU with a mere 20-16 halftime lead.
The No. 13 Tigers (7-2) extended their FBS-record winning streak against nonconference opponents to 45. They rebounded from a 27-24 loss at Ole Miss last week to improve to 22-1 in games following a defeat in coach Les Miles’ nine seasons.
They have an open date before visiting No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 9.
The Paladins of the FCS Southern Conference, who haven’t beaten a Southeastern Conference opponent since topping Vanderbilt in 1963, fell to 3-5.
“The game started sloppy,” Miles said. “The second half, the offense took control and the defense played like it was supposed to. In the end, it looked like it’s supposed to.”
Miles said Collins and Porter should be available to play against the Crimson Tide. The same is true of safety Craig Loston, who was held out.
Magee sparked the second-half offensive outburst: His 33-yard run set up his 1-yard touchdown and a 27-16 edge after the first possession of the third quarter.
The lead grew to 34-16 later when Zach Mettenberger tossed a 7-yard completion to freshman fullback Melvin Jones, who was pressed into action after injuries to J.C. Copeland and Connor Neighbors.
Magee’s 39-yard touchdown run and Mettenberger’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Beckham completed the scoring in the fourth.
“Terrence Magee is a talented guy, and he deserves snaps,” Miles said.
Late in the game, Miles was able to pull more starters and inserted freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings, who ran three times for 9 yards and completed 1 of 2 passes for 12 yards
LSU gained 394 of its yards after halftime. Magee finished with 108 yards on seven carries, and Hill had 143 yards on 14 carries.
“I’m glad we had the kind of day he had (offensively),” Miles said.
Mettenberger completed 16 of 24 passes for 328 yards as Beckham finished with 204 yards on six catches. But Mettenberger also threw two interceptions, his second consecutive multi-INT game after he threw three against Ole Miss. Before last week, he had had just one multi-intrception game in his career.
Furman demonstrated early on that it planned to be more than salve on LSU’s wounds from the loss to Ole Miss. On the Tigers’ first possession, Reggie Thomas intercepted a Mettenberger pass and ran 74 yards for a touchdown.
LSU responded with a four-play drive that ended with Hill running 55 yards for a touchdown, but that didn’t faze the Paladins. They answered with Ray Early’s 46-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.
Hill’s 4-yard touchdown run gave the Tigers a 13-10 lead after one quarter, and Mettenberger’s 37-yard pass to Beckham shortly thereafter made it 20-10.
Early’s 31-yard field goal got Furman within seven, and the Paladins were in position to tie the score right before halftime as they reached the LSU 1 after Beckham muffed a punt. It was the second such miscue by Beckham this season as he mishandled a punt that led to a third-quarter tiebreaking touchdown in a 44-41 loss Sept. 28 at Georgia.
But they committed a false start, threw an incompletion with five seconds left and settled for Early’s 23-yard field goal and a 20-16 halftime deficit.
“There are some things we have to eliminate,” Miles said.
They’ll have two weeks to work on that before facing Alabama.