LSU got its first road win over an ACC opponent since North Carolina in the 1985 season. There were only two attempts against current ACC teams since then. LSU lost @ Virginia Tech in 2002 and @ Florida State in 1990. Both games were before the opponent had joined the ACC though.
The Tigers have now won 50 consecutive regular-season non-conference games to increase their own record. That 2002 Virginia Tech game I mentioned was the last time LSU lost such a game.
In the only regular-season games against ACC opponents since 1985, LSU played Virginia Tech at home (2007) and North Carolina at a neutral site (2010), both wins for the Tigers. There have also been five contests against ACC teams in bowl games over the last 20 years: Clemson (1996 and 2012), Georgia Tech (2000 and 2008), and U. Miami (2005). LSU did play home games against Florida St. and U. Miami at home (before either joined the ACC) in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
LSU’s last game against Syracuse had been the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl (now known as the Outback Bowl), but the Orangemen were independent at the time. LSU’s only contest against Syracuse before that had been the Sugar Bowl after the 1964 season.
LSU only won by 10 points, but that’s not what bothers me. The Tigers could have probably scored a touchdown with just a couple more handoffs at the end of the game. Also, Syracuse only got within 10 by scoring a touchdown in the last two minutes.
I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of when you’re on the road against a major-conference opponent (especially one who hadn’t lost yet).
What bothers me is the way we kept them in the game. Without penalties, this could have been a shutout or close to it. I don’t know if we would have scored more necessarily — we might not have tried to score as much in the second half — but there was definitely one touchdown and possibly a field goal or two that didn’t happen because of penalties.
Between two plays — the first one a decent play that was called back by a hold — LSU lost 40 yards of field position.
After going out to a 7-0 lead, the Tigers had a third and three at their own 47. Fournette runs to just outside the LSU 30 for an apparent first down. But the tight end is called for a hold. Not saying it wasn’t hold, but I don’t believe it was necessary to allow Fournette to evade the tackle. It would have been at best an attempt at an arm tackle from a weak position. Instead of a first and 10, it’s a third and 14. Harris gets sacked and fumbles (recovered by LSU) at the 27. So it was actually slightly more than 40 yards.
Maybe LSU has to settle for a field goal and misses and there isn’t much difference, but that’s still a huge opportunity wasted, not to mention keeping the defense off the field. Syracuse would take over around their own 40, so that’s pretty good field position to set up a field goal try, which was successful.
Syracuse should have faced a third and 14 from inside their own 30 before their first touchdown play in the second half, but an LSU player who had lost his helmet helped push the quarterback out of bounds after he was already wrapped up. Personal foul, first and 10 at the 49 instead. The 40-yard touchdown came a couple of plays later. This made the score 17-10 in the third quarter.
In the first 40 minutes of play, LSU had already been penalized 8 times for 69 yards.
At that point LSU had out-gained the Orange 225-150. That 150 counts the 40-yard Syracuse touchdown I mentioned.
Still in the third quarter, LSU gets the ball back up 24-10. Fournette runs for 87 yards to the end zone. If the play stands, the game is essentially over then. But it doesn’t. LSU is flagged again, this time for illegal formation. One of the receivers was a full two yards behind the line and another was about five feet behind the line (some LSU fans contested this, but the angle of the camera made it look like the closer receiver was at the line of scrimmage when he wasn’t). LSU is eventually forced to punt.
Two more penalties set up the second Syracuse touchdown as well. The orange earned a first down in LSU territory, but just barely. Then, there was an unnecessary horse collar penalty, and then right afterward an interference penalty. The ball was not catchable, but I guess the contact was so early in the play, that didn’t cancel out the interference. This resulted in a 24-17 score, the last time Syracuse would get within 7.
The third touchdown was a result of LSU playing a sort of soft zone/prevent mostly (it was 34-17 with just a few minutes left), but this time there was a complete nonsense penalty. The Syracuse quarterback was running toward the sidelines nowhere near the first-down marker. The LSU defender made contact as the quarterback approached the hash mark along the sidelines; but I guess because he bumped him to get him out of bounds rather than giving him a big hug or raising his arms up like a basketball player, it was a personal foul.
Then, as I mentioned, LSU got the ball back and ran out the clock even though they were in possible position for a score.
In total, LSU was penalized 14 times for 120 yards. There were another 120 yards or more that were negated by penalties.
LSU out-gainted Syracuse 425 to 281, so I wasn’t unhappy about that. Again, could have been a larger margin than that had LSU made it easier for the Syracuse offense to get off the field, but the defense responded pretty well to the pressure it was put under.
Syracuse also had really good field position for most of the game. This was partly due to a generaly better kicking game.
The Orange had a better night punting than LSU did (5 punts apiece, 228 yards vs. 188 yards), but LSU’s Tre’Davious White ran back a punt for a touchdown, so I guess that helped to even it out.
Syracuse had the advantage in kick returns: 176 yards (7 returns) to 57 (3 returns).
The good news on offense (other than the obvious) was LSU did not turn the ball over, and Brandon Harris had more passing yards in this game (157) than in the previous two games combined.
I mentioned the Tigers got a pretty good amount of yards, but of course Leonard Fournette contributed a good bit to that with 244 rushing yards. Alley Broussard still holds the LSU record (at 250), but it was put in danger for the second game in a row. Fournette does now have the LSU road record and is the first Tiger to rush for over 200 yards in consecutive games.
For what it’s worth, Broussard seems to be enjoying the renewed interest in his career with the Tigers. http://www.nola.com/lsu/index.ssf/2015/09/leonard_fournette_lsu_record.html