NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Derrius Guice rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 13 LSU never allowed BYU's offense to cross midfield in a 27-0 defeat of the Cougars on Saturday night.
While Louisiana native Ed Orgeron was able to celebrate a largely stress-free victory in his maiden season opener as LSU's head coach, he also saw his offense squander scoring chances that could have made the result even more lopsided.
Operating an overhauled scheme under new coordinator Matt Canada, LSU piled up enormous statistical advantages but stalled four times inside the BYU 20 — twice coming away with no points, once because of a missed field goal and once because of a failed run on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
The Tigers outgained BYU (1-1) 479 yards to 97, and senior quarterback Danny Etling proved right those teammates and coaches who said he has looked more accurate since recovering from offseason back surgery. Etling completed 14 of 17 passes for 173 yards, including completions of 52 yards to D.J. Chark and 32 yards to Russell Gage. He did not have a touchdown pass, but didn't turn the ball over, either.
The game was supposed to be played in Houston, but was moved because of flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Still, the "Texas Kickoff" logo was on the Superdome field and the LSU band played "Texas My Texas" before kickoff.
Guice scored LSU's first TD on a 4-yard run through the middle of the line on what was his 10th carry of a 13-play, 66-yard drive. Guice gained 50 of those yards. His second TD was 1-yard run capping a drive that began after Andraez Williams' interception and which featured Etling's long pass to Chark.
Cougars QB Tanner Mangum was 12 of 24 for 102 yards while under routine pressure. He was sacked three times. The Cougars also had a fake punt deep in their own territory snuffed out, resulting in Darrel Williams' 1-yard TD, which capped scoring in the fourth quarter.
LSU led 14-0 at halftime but could have led by more.
The Tigers outgained the Cougars 269 yards to 47 in the opening half while posting advantages of 13-3 in first downs and 21:48 to 8:12 in time of possession.
However, LSU's Jack Gonsoulin missed his first career field goal attempt from 34 yards out. Other drives stalled because of four pre-snap penalties effectively stalled drives as the Tigers continued to work out the kinks in a new offense known for a wide diversity of shifts and formations.
The good news for LSU was that a defense with four true freshmen in the starting lineup — and without injured top pass rusher Arden Key — shut BYU down. And the last time LSU played in the Superdome, it was the Tigers who didn't cross midfield during a loss to Alabama in the 2012 national title game.
BYU: The Cougars were a little concerned by a less-than-convincing season-opening victory over Portland State of the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision. This result won't help.
LSU: It looks like LSU has plenty of promising young talent on defense and an offense that could become exceptionally productive and explosive if players can master all of the pre-snap motion without drawing flags. However, the Tigers are unlikely to move up in the AP Top 25 Poll because every team ahead of them won exception Florida State, which won't likely fall too far from third after losing to top-ranked Alabama.
Several projected regulars apparently were benched. Orgeron has said he prefers to keep those matters "in-house." Those not dressed included middle linebacker Michael Divinity, defensive tackle Frank Herron, cornerback Kevin Tolliver, linebacker Donnie Alexander and Bry'Keithon Mouton.
BYU senior defensive back Micah Hannemann was ejected in the third quarter for targeting after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Guice. The ruling means Hannemann must miss the first half of the Cougars' next game.
BYU: Returns home to play in-state rival Utah.
LSU: Plays its home opener against Chattanooga of the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision.