LSU mauls MSU

Published 6:38 pm Friday, August 31, 2007

Craig Steltz had three of LSU’s six interceptions of Mississippi State quarterback Michael Henig and the second-ranked Tigers manhandled the Bulldogs again in a 45-0 victory Thursday night.

No. 2 LSU’s new starting quarterback Matt Flynn and new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton struggled to find a rhythm early, but they received plenty of help from Henig, who tied a school record by throwing six picks.

It was LSU’s eighth straight win overall and eighth straight in the series with the Bulldogs.

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Since Mississippi State’s last win in 1999, LSU has outscored the Bulldogs 340-81, including three shutouts by 42 or more points.

Mississippi State has lost 12 straight games to Top 10 opponents and 11 of its last 13 home games.

LSU’s Steltz, Curtis Taylor, Jonathan Zenon and Danny McCray had interceptions in the first half and Steltz added two more in the second half. The Tigers needed the help as a stout Bulldogs defense held them scoreless on every drive but one that wasn’t set up by a turnover.

Henig also fumbled the snap on a fourth-and-1 attempt after he led the team on a nine-play drive in the first quarter that put the Bulldogs at the Tigers 36. It was one of only two serious forays into LSU territory.

Henig tied the school record for interceptions in a game that had stood since 1949 before giving way to freshman Wesley Carroll midway through the fourth quarter.

It was Henig’s fifth multiple-interception game in 10 career starts and the most picks he’s thrown since giving away three passes against Alabama on Nov. 5, 2005, as a freshman.

While Henig struggled, Flynn gained confidence as the game progressed. After completing 3 of 7 passes for 23 yards in the first quarter, JaMarcus Russell’s replacement zeroed in on Early Doucet. The fifth-year senior finished with 128 yards on 12 of 19 passing with two touchdowns and no turnovers in his second career start. That included an 11-yard touchdown to Doucet, who had nine catches for 78 yards.

Jacob Hester gave LSU a boost early and finished with 68 yards rushing on 14 carries. He also served as the lead blocker on two 1-yard runs by Keiland Williams that helped the Tigers to a 17-0 halftime lead.

While LSU’s offense will have to find some consistency as the team prepares for next week’s game against No. 9 Virginia Tech, its defense appeared to be as dominating as last year.

The Tigers allowed 146 total yards and held the Bulldogs to 10 yards rushing. The Bulldogs have lost 26 straight when held to less than 100 yards rushing.

LSU had four sacks and a fumble recovery in addition to the interceptions.

Mississippi State can take some consolation in keeping the game close in the first half. Last season, the Tigers led 21-0 after the first quarter and 35-3 midway through a 48-17 win.

The result certainly won’t take the pressure off Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom, who has lost 26 games in four seasons at Starkville and will be searching for his 10th win when the Bulldogs travel to Tulane on Sept. 8.