The Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, was watching from the stands. Chris Faulk, one of LSU’s best offensive linemen, was far away from Tiger Stadium, preparing to begin his long road back from a season-ending knee injury.
A season after hurdling challenges from Oregon and West Virginia on the road, the Washington Huskies set up to be LSU’s best nonconference challenge in 2012. The key pieces lost in the early going (we haven’t even mentioned linebacker Tahj Jones, out on academic appeal) looked to have the Tigers as vulnerable as could be against a rebuilding-but-dangerous Pac-12 program like Washington.
But, by George, Washington never stood a chance.
Instead, what has been true so many times against LSU’s nonconference opponents over the last decade was true again. The Tigers were utterly dominant Saturday night in a 41-3 throttling of the Huskies that proved last week’s sluggish 41-14 season-opening win over North Texas was a case of a very good team playing with very little focus.
The Honey Badger, as legend (or silly YouTube videos) has it, takes what it wants.
So did the Tigers in this one.
They ran at will again, for 242 yards on 52 carries.
They threw effectively for 195 yards, though Zach Mettenberger was victimized by four dropped passes that included one in the end zone.
They played suffocating defense, limiting the Huskies to zero net yards rushing through three quarters and just 183 total yards in all. They may have pitched a shutout had not Washington recovered an Odell Beckham Jr. fumble on the opening kickoff at the LSU 20, setting up the Huskies’ field goal.
Afterward, LSU coach Les Miles was hard pressed to contain his delight.
“We rushed when we had to and we threw when we wanted,” Miles said.
The same was even true in the punting department.
Watching Brad Wing kick is like watching fellow lefty Bubba Watson crush drives. Wing’s first tee shot rocketed 62 yards into the stiffest north wind to blow through Baton Rouge since Isaac and bounded out of bounds at the Washington 4. After the Huskies went three-and-out, Korey Durkee hit a wobbly 32-yarder from his 6. The Tigers needed just two plays to score, Alfred Blue slicing between Josh Dworazcyk (Faulk’s replacement) and La’El Collins 21 yards for the Tigers’ first touchdown.
Just like that, LSU was on its way to its BCS record-tying 39th straight regular-season nonconference win and school record-tying 19th straight home win.
“This is a very difficult place to play,” said Miles, who has given 29 of those nonconference foes a ride home in the trunk of his courtesy SUV.
Let’s call it now: LSU will also clobber Idaho next week. That puts LSU at 3-0 with a full head of steam going into its Southeastern Conference opener at wobbly 0-2 Auburn.
After a week of angst and injury, LSU couldn’t have asked to be in a better spot.