— BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — By the time Zach Mettenberger and the LSU Tigers had sealed up their latest victory over Auburn in their Southeastern Conference opener, they were too disappointed over their second-half slippage to celebrate their early dominance.
"Guys just didn't keep their heads in the game," Mettenberger said following Saturday night's 35-21 victory. "We just let off the gas pedal. Hopefully this is a lesson that everybody learned."
For the most part, sixth-ranked LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) is where it wants to be heading into its toughest test yet at No. 9 Georgia (2-1, 1-0) next Saturday. The Tigers have won all four of their games by double digits while establishing balance on offense and strong play on a defense that entered the season with a host of new starters.
LSU is averaging 43.2 points per game, while giving up only 19.5.
In wet, sloppy conditions in Death Valley, LSU raced to a 21-0 halftime lead thanks in large part to a ground game — led by 6-foot-2, 235-pound running back Jeremy Hill — which accounted for 154 yards in the first half alone. Hill, who sat out the season opener because of an offseason arrest, has wasted little time re-establishing himself as arguably to most explosive and powerful force on the LSU offense — and showing why it benefited coach Les Miles to keep the length Hill's benching brief. Hill had 152 of those first-half yards — including runs of 49 and 54 yards — and finished with a career-high 184 yards to go with three TDs.
Oddly, when the rain let up in the second half, LSU got sloppy.
"We try to be a weather-proof offense," Mettenberger said. "When it was raining, we actually played our best football. I think guys need to keep their heads in it for all four quarters."