LSU looked like one of the best teams in the country in a dominant 41-3 win over Washington on Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Washington struck first when LSU fumbled the opening kickoff, but after that the Tigers had their way with the Huskies in every facet of the game, posting 41 unanswered points.
LSU extended its regular season non-conference winning streak to 39 games, tying the NCAA record set by Kansas State which spanned from 1993-2003. The last time the Tigers lost to a non-SEC opponent during the regular season? Sept. 1, 2002 to Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium.
Despite a promising start, UW never stood a chance in this one, as LSU improved to 2-0 and UW fell to 1-1.
Let's take a look at the postgame grades for LSU's decisive victory over UW:
Zach Mettenberger had a great game from start to finish in this one. He put forth a mistake-free performance, managing the game and making plays when he needed to.
The junior finished 12-of-18 for 195 yards and a touchdown. If it weren't for some drops by his receivers, it would have been even better.
He had seven completions of 15 yards or more, including a 32-yard touchdown strike to Kadron Boone in the third quarter to cap a 73-yard drive.
I'm definitely nit-picking here, but there were a few instances where he could have thrown a more catchable ball. However, this is a national title contender we're talking about, so he may need a few of those throws going forward.
Four LSU running backs totaled 38 yards or more on the evening and three different backs found the end zone in a dominant effort.
Junior Alfred Blue led the way, averaging 7.2 yards per carry for a total 101 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown dash in the first quarter.
LSU netted 242 yards on the ground and pounded away at UW throughout the game.
When it was all but decided, the Tigers marched down the field and salted the remaining minutes away to send the Huskies home with a loss.
The receivers were the worst individual unit on the field for LSU against Washington.
Dropped passes plagued this group throughout the game, including a drop by Russell Shepard in the end zone.
It wasn't all bad though, as the group hauled in multiple long receptions.
Kadron Boone brought down the lone touchdown reception from 32 yards out, in his only catch of the game.
Odell Beckham had a couple of the drops, but still caught two passes for 40 yards.
The leader of this group tonight was James Wright with five receptions for 75 yards.
LSU couldn't have asked for a better game from its offensive line. In a dominant win, it all started up front, as the Tigers controlled the trenches.
Zach Mettenberger had plenty of time to throw and rarely had to leave the pocket, much less worry about actually being sacked.
The revolving door of running backs were almost always able to find running lanes, as previously mentioned. Even when UW plugged the holes, the LSU line had enough of a push that the backs netted positive yardage.
The Tigers line absolutely manhandled the under-matched Washington defensive front.
The Tigers didn't just control the trenches on the offensive side of the ball, but they also dominated the action on defense as well.
Keith Price was under intense pressure from the LSU rush all night, which allowed him little time to develop any type of offensive rhythm.
The UW offense thrives on rhythm and tempo and can be dangerous once its going, but that simply never happened.
Price was able to escape and make a few plays, but it was the LSU defensive line that set the tone for this entire game by forcing him to have to make those plays.
The LSU linebacking corps also had an excellent game and helped set a physical tone for the entire game.
Kwon Alexander led the group with a few nice plays as the UW offense sputtered all night.
On the ground, the Huskies averaged an abysmal 1.1 yards per carry for a total of 26 yards.
That really says it all, as once LSU built a lead, the linebackers were able to sit back and help out in pass coverage, making the game a nightmare for Price and UW.
In the secondary, LSU withstood a barrage of passes long and short from Price, but always held strong when it had to.
The great play by the defensive line kept the pressure off the secondary, but the Tigers corners and safeties were able to break up multiple key passes, destroying the Huskies rhythm.
Price ended up just 17-of-36 for 157 yards, averaging a pitiful 4.4 yards per attempt.
In the third quater, Jalen Mills all but sealed the deal, bringing in the game's only interception.
Most importantly, no aloe was needed after this one, as the Tigers avoided the burns that hurt them against North Texas.
The fumble on the opening kickoff was LSU's lone special teams blunder and one of its few smudges on an otherwise flawless performance.
Punter Brad Wing had a surgically precise punt that landed inside of the five-yard line and was solid overall as usual.
James Hariston had numerous touchbacks on kickoffs and the kick coverage was strong, allowing only one return of considerable length.
Finally, kicker Drew Alleman was 2-of-2 on field goals and 5-of-5 on extra points.
Other than the fumble, it was a very clean performance on special teams.
The LSU staff coached an excellent game of football.
The offense and defense were both balanced and aggressive, but didn't take unnecessary gambles.
The only blemish in terms of coaching came on two drives stalled deep in UW territorry, but with a final score of 41-3, it didn't matter.
Les Miles didn't have to make too many painstaking decisions, because he put his players in place to succeed throughout the game—and boy did they execute.