Missing players for opt-outs or the portal has impacted teams differently this postseason. Both LSU and Purdue were missing some key players for the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. But the Boilermakers were depleted, and the Tigers had plenty of depth of talent left as LSU crushes Purdue, 63-7.
LSU was missing all-conference receiver Kayshon Boutte and some starters on defense as they get ready for the NFL. But the Tigers still had quarterbacks Jayden Daniels and Garrett Nussmeier, receiver Malik Nabers, and running back Noah Cain. Purdue was missing quarterback Aidan O’Connell, and frankly at that point, not much else mattered.
LSU scored a touchdown on five consecutive first-half possessions to build up a 35-0 lead at half time and the Tigers just cruised through the second half for the bowl win.
LSU Early And Often
Daniels and Nussmeier split drives in the first half. It didn’t matter who was in for LSU. The Purdue defense had no answers. The depth of talent for LSU was such that Purdue was terribly overmatched. The Boilermakers were relying on sixth-year quarterback Austin Burton , who in his career at UCLA and Purdue had not thrown as many passes as Daniels had this season alone. The game was that lopsided that quickly.
Daniels finished the game 12 of 17 for 139 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 67 yards on six carries. Nussmeier was 11 of 15 for 173 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. all Burton could manage was 12 of 24 passing for 74 yards and an interception.
LSU finished the game 594 yards of total offense compared to 256 for Purdue.
LSU was forced to punt on its first possession of the game. That was the highlight for Purdue’s defense. On LSU’s second possession, Daniels drove the Tigers 68 yards on 10 plays with balance in the play calling. He was three of three for 45 yards throwing, and LSU had seven rushes for 23 yards. John Emery, Jr. rammed up the middle for the final yard of the drive and the touchdown for the 7-0 lead.
Daniels And Nussmeier
When Nussmeier came in on the next drive, he went five for seven passing for 54 yards. Noah Cain picked up the last nine yards with a run up the middle for the touchdown and the 14-0 lead.
By the end of the first quarter, LSU had 149 yards of total offense already to all of 21 yards for Purdue. It didn’t get any better in the second quarter.
Daniels needed only five plays to drive LSU 65 yards. With the Tigers at the Purdue 32-yard line, he connected with Mason Taylor on a crossing route at the 24-yard line. Taylor had no problem weaving through the Purdue secondary for the rest of the yards and the touchdown for the 21-0 lead.
Later, Daniels would pick up 37 yards on the ground himself to take the Tigers down to the Purdue nine-yard line. Cain took it in from there with a run up the middle and LSU was up 28-0, still in the first half.
Purdue’s Empty Drive
Purdue was actually putting up an answer. Burton had a 10-play drive going to the LSU 30-yard line. But he underthrew Paul Piferi, who was behind the defender. The ball was intercepted at the goal line by Jarrick Bernard-Converse and returned to the 25-yard line.
Just to put an exclamation point on the half, LSU first-year coach Brian Kelly went deep into the bag of tricks.
At his own 45-yard line, Nussmeier pitched the ball to Nabers on an end around. Nabers pulled up and threw it on a dime to Kyren Lacy at the Purdue 23-yard line. Lacy weaved his through defenders down to the 10-yard line. On the next play, Nussmeier threw to Brian Thomas, Jr. at the seven-yard line, and Thomas strolled into the end zone for the 35-0 halftime lead.
At halftime, LSU had 364 total yards of offense to 86 for Purdue. The Tigers were averaging 14 yards per play while Purdue could only must a little over two yards per play.
More Of The Same In The Second Half
Nabers got a touchdown pass of his own on the Tigers’ first drive of the second half. Emery took the direct snap, pitched it to Nabers on the end around, and Nabers threw it to Daniels in the end zone for the five-yard touchdown pass.
Purdue got a touchdown from backup quarterback Michael Alaimo in the fourth quarter. He connected with TJ Sheffield for a 16-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Just to rub some salt in the wound, as Purdue was driving for a last-minute score, Alaimo was picked off Quaid Wilson, who returned it 99 yards for a touchdown with a minute left in the game.
Purdue ends the season 8-6 and is ready for a lot of transition. Head coach Jeff Brohm left to take the Louisville job. His brother Brian, the offensive coordinator stayed to coach the team in the bowl game. Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters now takes over the program.
LSU started the year with so much talk as Kelly left Notre Dame to take over in Baton Rouge. The Tigers finish the season at 10-4 and, for now, have both quarterbacks returning next season.