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LSU 37, Mississippi State 17

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BATON ROUGE, La. - Hangover? What hangover?

Ok, No. 7-ranked LSU looked a tad sluggish in the early going Saturday night against 22nd-ranked Mississippi State after a memorable but hard-to-choke-down loss to No. 1 Alabama the week before.

Once the Tigers got a little wakeup call, though, they seized command.

Sparked by a turnover and Zach Mettenberger's continued hot hand, LSU overcame an early Bulldogs TD with a strong finish in the second half and churned out a 37-17 victory at Tiger Stadium.

Safety Craig Loston sealed the victory when he grabbed an interception in the closing moments and rambled 100 yards for a touchdown.

Mettenberger passed for 273 yards and a pair of touchdowns to anchor an impressive offensive night for the Tigers (8-2, 4-2 SEC), who piled up 392 total yards and 22 first downs.

LSU needed most of that, especially over the final three quarters as Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3) snapped out of a two-game funk and played well.

Not well enough, though, as the Bulldogs lost a 13th consecutive game to the Tigers.

State got as close as 20-17 early in the third quarter, capitalizing on a muffed punt. LSU's defense forced a three-and-out on the Bulldogs' first series of the quarter, but Odell Beckham Jr. coughed the ball up and MSU recovered at the 29.

Following a questionable pass interference call Loston, the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard when Tyler Russell floated a perfect pass to Chad Bumphis - over Loston - on a flag route in the end zone.

Unfazed by the narrowed gap, the Tigers offense came out and went to work.

With Mettenberger picking apart the Bulldogs' secondary, LSU rolled 45 yards for another Alleman field goal from 41 yards away.

Then after forcing State's second punt of the quarter, the Tigers pieced together a nice 80-yard drive, ignited by a 22-yard Mettenberger-to-Beckham pass and a 27-yard screen to Michael Ford.

That play put the ball at the 4-yard line, and three plays later 270-pound fullback J.C. Copeland plowed in for a 30-17 cushion.

The Bulldogs made two more lunges in the fourth quarter, but came up empty-handed.

Mississippi State moved to the LSU 15-yard-line after several Russell passes and a pass interference on the Tigers. But Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo - after struggling to put pressure on Russell all night - sacked him on consecutive snaps to snuff out the threat.

Following an LSU punt, Russell and Co. again started clicking. Starting from the Bulldogs' 13, they started peppering the Tigers' secondary. Russell connected on throws of 17, 11 and 16 yards for three rapid-fire first downs.

The Bulldogs got to the 4-yard-line, but a penalty pushed them back and two plays later Loston delivered the dagger with his pick-six.

Russell finished 26-of-38 passing for 295 passing yards, the high-water mark against LSU this season.

State drew first blood with a well-run opening series as Russell came out hot, hitting 5-of-6 passes to four different receivers. The Bulldogs churned through an LSU defense that seemed a step slow in the secondary, as they carved out four first downs.

The last one set up first-and-goal from the 9-yard-line, which prompted Mullen to send out backup quarterback Dak Prescott for a wildcat snap. Prescott got the ball, faked a run and floated a pass to tight end Marcus Green, who was all alone in the end zone.

The Tigers' offense methodically pecked away and produced Drew Alleman field goals on the next two possessions with back-to-back 12-play drives to close the gap to 7-6.

Before State could answer, a turnover turned the game around for both teams.

Russell pitched the ball to Derrick Milton on a sweep play to the right, but LSU defensive end Mingo blew the play up and knocked the ball away. Linebacker Lamin Barrow pounced on it and the Tigers were in business at the Bulldogs' 21-yard line.

After a 2-yard loss, Mettenberger connected twice with Jarvis Landry, the second a 19-yard laser in the end zone that put LSU on top for good, 13-7.

The Bulldogs inched closer on Devon Bell's 47-yard field goal, but the Tigers weren't content to run out the clock.

Instead, Mettenberger engineered a quick-strike 2-minute drive with passes to Landry for 15 yards, 36 to James Wright down the right sideline and then 20 to tailback Spencer Ware on a nifty wheel route for a TD and 20-10 halftime cushion.

NOTES: The Tigers are now 19-1 following a loss in Miles' eight season, 8-1 when they face an SEC foe after a setback. ... Saturday was Miles' 59th birthday. ... Jeremy Hill's streak of games with 100-plus rushing yards ended. The freshman finished with 49 yards on 15 carries. ... LSU has now won eight games or more in each of Miles' eight seasons. The Tigers have a chance to notch a 10-win (or more) season for the third year in a row and sixth time under Miles. ... Loston's return was the Tigers' longest play since Eddie Kennison's 100-yard punt return against the Bulldogs in 1994. ... LSU finished with a season-low two penalties for 20 yards. Both were defensive pass interference calls.
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