No Leonard Fournette, no problem. Behind the rushing attack of Derrius Guice and the arm of Danny Etling, LSU thumped Texas A&M 54-39 on Thursday night at Kyle Field.
Guice set an LSU single-game rushing record with 285 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground, as ESPN CollegeFootball noted:
Etling added 324 yards passing with two touchdowns as the two made history, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Without Fournette, its star running back—who didn't travel with the team due to an ankle injury—LSU entered the game facing an uphill battle on the road.
But Guice was quick to show he could carry the backfield, rumbling through the Texas A&M defense for a 45-yard touchdown on the Tigers' first drive.
It was a perfect jolt for Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday after a Thanksgiving feast:
ESPN's Carley McCord was buying the early hype:
Guice had been doing this all season, though, and Billy Embody of Scout broke down how valuable he's been:
Texas A&M answered through the air with 6:05 left in the first when quarterback Trevor Knight connected with Christian Kirk for a 36-yard touchdown to help tie things up.
Battling a shoulder injury, Knight looked fine to CBSSports.com's Brad Crawford:
Knight threw for three touchdowns and 211 yards before injuring his knee in the fourth quarter and leaving the game. Jake Hubenak attempted seven passes in Knight's absence, completing three for 73 yards.
That touchdown to Kirk was all the success the Aggies saw in the first half, though, as LSU dominated the second quarter.
After a pair of Colby Delahoussaye field goals put the Tigers up 13-7, LSU linebacker Devin White stripped Trayveon Williams at A&M's 20-yard line to give the Tigers a short field with 43 seconds left.
Just 11 seconds later, Etling hit Malachi Dupre to help put LSU up 20-7 at the half. Just like Knight, Etling impressed with his touchdown throw. This time, Shea Dixon of 247Sports doled out the praise:
During the second quarter, Knight had just nine yards and completed one of eight passes.
Thanks to a 66-yard kick return from Kirk to open the second half, the Aggies started with a field goal, but Guice punched right back with a 45-yard touchdown run to pad LSU's lead.
ESPN's Ryan Clark was ready to put him in an elite category:
With 7:45 left in the third, Guice scored his third touchdown of the game with a six-yard scamper to help the Tigers go up 34-10.
It prompted Xfinity Sports to bring up the College Football Playoff rankings from a few weeks ago, when Texas A&M was in the Top Four:
Guice's third score was the first in a streak of seven consecutive touchdown drives between both teams.
Fox8 NOLA's Chris Hagan forgot what conference he was watching because of the scoring outburst:
But LSU's ability to answer each of Texas A&M's scores ensured that the Tigers maintained a healthy advantage.
The seventh consecutive scoring drive contained Guice's fourth TD, this one coming from two yards out to help put LSU up 54-33 with 4:59 remaining.
While there weren't dire postseason implications for LSU on Thursday night, a strong performance might have presented another case for why interim head coach Ed Orgeron should get the permanent gig next season.
However, during the game, ESPN.com's Chris Low and Brett McMurphy reported that LSU and Tom Herman, Houston's head coach, were close to a deal.
Still, it should not be lost just how good of a job Orgeron did, going 5-2 after the school fired Les Miles, which got some such as Avi Zaleon of the Dallas Morning News thinking:
Texas A&M (8-4) lost out on its first 10-win season since 2012, which included a Cotton Bowl win and a Heisman Trophy for Johnny Manziel. It also would have been the first time the Aggies would have finished SEC play with a winning record since that same year.
With that kind of mediocre stretch, there is a possibility that head coach Kevin Sumlin could lose his job.
Orgeron didn't get much of an opportunity to talk about the win, per Ross Dellenger of the Advocate:
Instead, he was asked about the Herman rumors. He didn't pay much attention, though, per Steve Fullhart of KBTX:
Much like LSU fans, Orgeron is unsure of his next step, per Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com:
But he doesn't seem worried, per Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com:
In the other locker room, Sumlin was not pleased, per Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News:
For a coach who is 15-17 in SEC games over the past four years and 3-9 in November conference tilts since 2013, Sumlin has a lot of work to do should he keep his job.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.