LSU christened a newly expanded Tiger Stadium in style and treated more than 100,000 fans to an offensive show on Saturday night, routing Sam Houston State, 56-0.
Announced attendance was 100,338, as LSU opened a new deck on the south end of the historic cathedral of college football.
While the throng of LSU faithful became familiar with the updated sightlines, new LED ribbon boards and HD video boards surrounding the new digs, the Tigers put on a display of their own on the field.
LSU (2-0) built its biggest halftime lead in coach Les Miles' 10 seasons, 35-0, behind 399 yards of total offense that was as evenly applied on the ground (211) as through the air (188).
In the second half, many more new faces had a chance to contribute for the first time in Tiger Stadium. LSU played 17 members of its 2014 signing class along with eight more redshirt freshmen – and expanded its advantage by three touchdowns in the final 30 minutes.
The final margin was LSU’s largest since Sept. 2, 2000, when LSU also opened an expanded Tiger Stadium (east side upper deck and suites) with a 58-0 win.
The Tigers amassed 584 yards of total offense including 334 rushing on 58 attempts.
Sam Houston State (1-2) managed 206 net yards with only 50 on the ground. LSU forced seven sacks, nine punts and three turnovers.
LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings tossed three first-half touchdowns - all to wide receiver Travin Dural, who continued his torrid start to the 2014 season. Dural's three touchdowns catches included a school-record 94-yarder on LSU's first play from scrimmage. He added touchdowns of 28 and 18 yards in the first 17 minutes of play.
The 94-yard reception by Dural tied the longest play from scrimmage by a Tiger in program history, and was its longest in a home game all-time. Dural had 151 yards receiving in the season opener against Wisconsin and added 140 more tonight.
Jennings started and played most of the first half and early in the second half. He finished 7-of-13 passing for 188 yards and added 43 rushing yards on nine attempts.
Other than Dural’s trio of touchdowns and Kenny Hilliard’s 2-yard touchdown run to end the scoring, true freshmen did the rest of the scoring for LSU. Leonard Fournette and Brandon Harris each displayed runs of 40 or more yards in the decisive first half, while running back Darrel Williams scored from 1-yard in the third quarter and wide receiver Malachi Dupre hauled in a beautiful 8-yard diving catch from Harris in the fourth quarter.
On LSU's third drive, Fournette took a second-and-10 carry to his left, cut back right to find a hole and shook off a pair of tackles before being dragged down at the Bearkats 4-yard line. He showed the same patience on the ensuing carry, waiting for a hole to open on the right side of the line before hitting it for his first touchdown as a Tiger. He finished with 92 rushing yards on 13 carries and had two catches out of the backfield for 32 yards.
Early in the second quarter, Harris had his first shot to impress the home crowd. After an 8-yard gain to the LSU 39 and then an incompletion on the first pass of his career, he took a quarterback keeper 46 yards around the right end for his first career score.
Harris re-entered on the fourth drive of the second half and played the duration at quarterback. He completed 4-of-5 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown to Dupre. Harris also ran for 53 net yards and was sacked once.
Williams finished with 14 carries and 65 rushing yards, while Hilliard had 55 yards on 11 carries.
Defensively, LSU true freshman Sione Teuhema got into the act with two sacks in his first appearance as a Tiger, while veteran end Danielle Hunter, linebacker Kendell Beckwith and back Dwayne Thomas led the way with seven tackles each. Thomas and safety Rickey Jefferson each had interceptions.
Sam Houston State quarterback Jared Johnson led the way offensively with 142 passing yards on 8-of-25 attempts with two interceptions. His favorite target was Yedidiah Louis, who caught four passes for 102 yards including a 48-yarder. Donavan Williams had 29 of the Bearkats' 50 net rushing yards.
LSU improved to 95-21-4 in home openers, and 10-0 all-time against Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) opponents.
Sam Houston State won the coin toss and elected to take the opening kickoff, putting its high-powered offense on the field. The Bearkats used a fast tempo to work across midfield, but on the next play Johnson was intercepted by Dwayne Thomas at the LSU 6. Thomas returned the interception deep into Bearkats territory, but he was ruled down by video replay.
On the Tigers' first play, Jennings dropped back into his endzone and lofted a pass over the only Sam Houston State defender and into the waiting hands of Dural at the 41. He ran untouched into the north endzone for a 6-0 lead. Colby Delahoussaye's PAT bounced off the post.
A loss of five yards on a tackle by LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter and a sack by Jermauria Rasco stopped the Bearkats ensuing drive and forced a punt.
From the LSU 41, Hilliard ran three times for 16 yards before Jennings connected with wide receiver Trey Quinn for 12 yards and a first down at the SHSU 31. Two plays later, Jennings and Dural teamed for a second touchdown, this time with the receiver streaking from left to right across the field before making the 28-yard touchdown grab at the goalline.
Sam Houston took advantage of a 39-yard catch-and-run by Yedidiah and advanced to the LSU 20-yard line. However, a fourth-down stop by the Tigers defense put the offense back on the field.
Fournette got his first opportunities to carry the ball and made the most of it. His 40-yard run was followed by a 4-yard touchdown scamper up the middle that put LSU ahead 20-0 with 3:56 left in the opening quarter.
Dural completed his remarkable first 17 minutes of the game by hauling in an 18-yard touchdown from Jennings - the third of the game for the combo. LSU led 27-0 with 13:28 remaining in the half.
Harris then led the Tigers to paydirt once again with his 46-yard burst up the right side. A two-point conversion by over the top of the defense by Hilliard pushed the LSU advantage to 35-0 with 8:15 left before halftime.
In the third quarter, Jamie Keehn punted twice before the Tigers offense got back in sync. An 11-yard sack of Johnson by LSU linebacker D.J. Welter caused a fumble and linebacker Deion Jones recovered at the Bearkats 1-yard line.
Williams barreled in for the touchdown and a 42-0 lead with 7:11 left in the third quarter.
Another turnover forced by the LSU defense led to points, as Rickey Jefferson's interception at the LSU 2 was returned 18 yards late in the quarter. Harris completed passes of 22, 17 and 15 yards to John Diarse, Williams and Dupre, as the Tigers advanced to the Bearkats' 23. A pass interference penalty on Sam Houston State gave the Tigers first-and-goal, and Dupre was able to make a diving catch in the right corner of the endzone to score from eight yards.
With 13:08 remaining, LSU led 49-0.
LSU's final touchdown came on its next drive. After Tre'Davious White returned a punt 30 yards to the SHSU 42, Fournette ran three times for 40 yards to the 2, where Hilliard polished off the scoring with a touchdown run.
The Tigers remain home next weekend when Louisiana-Monroe comes to Tiger Stadium for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff on ESPNU.