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Sunday, September 09, 2007

(2) LSU 48, (9) Virginia Tech 7

LSU proved to the nation on national television that they are the team to beat in college football, not USC.

By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer
September 9, 2007

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- LSU didn't need any small-school sacrificial lambs on its early season schedule to post a couple of gaudy blowouts. The tenacious Tigers made Virginia Tech look like a pushover instead of the ninth-ranked team in the nation.

Keiland Williams ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Matt Flynn led LSU to scores on four of its first five possessions as the Tigers cruised to a 48-7 victory over the uncharacteristically hapless Hokies on Saturday night.

The performance was so overwhelming that head coach Les Miles tried to dissuade people from pumping up his players.

"You can save the accolades. We've just won two games and we have a lot of football to play," Miles said. "Don't make too much of this. It's all about what we have to get done in the future."

But there was little Miles could say to undercut what everyone saw -- LSU (2-0) looked awesome in handing Frank Beamer his most lopsided loss since he took the head coaching job at Virginia Tech in 1987, and the national title talk will only ramp up among Tigers fans.

The vaunted Virginia Tech defense, the best in the land the past two seasons, got pushed around. Tech hadn't given up that many points in a regular season game since a 52-21 loss to Syracuse in 1996. They also allowed 52 in a 2003 loss to Cal in the Insight.com Bowl.

By contrast, LSU drove Virginia Tech starting quarterback Sean Glennon from the game midway through the second quarter.

"Virginia Tech's always had one of the top defenses. We weren't playing against their defense, but in a way we were," said LSU safety Craig Steltz, whose first-half interception set up a field goal. "We just came out and made a statement about how special this defense really is."

Williams highlighted a stunning first half for the Tigers with a career-long 67-yard run for a touchdown.

LSU had a 24-0 lead after the first 18 minutes and outgained Tech 327-40 in the first half -- a week after its 45-0 dismantling of Southeastern Conference rival Mississippi State.

Williams added a 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Jacob Hester had 81 yards rushing, scored LSU's first touchdown, and also caught a pass for 28 yards.

Flynn didn't last the whole game either, but only because there was little need for him to play much beyond the third quarter. He ran for a touchdown early in the game and wound up with 217 yards passing.

Brandon LaFell, who had six career catches entering the game, had seven against Tech for 125 yards, including a 56-yarder on LSU's second scoring drive.

"What a football team. They really took it to us," Beamer said. "We're certainly disappointed in how we played, but certainly, give LSU a lot of credit for that. ... They got us good."

The Hokies can still hope for an Atlantic Coast Conference title, but their national title chances are pretty much gone.

Virginia Tech (1-1) did not score until 4:38 remained in the third quarter, when backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran in from a yard out.

That made it 27-7, but LSU got those points back when backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux found Early Doucet wide open for a 34-yard TD. Perrilloux also connected with freshman Terrance Tolliver for a 28-yard score.

The Hokies and their fans received an unusually cordial welcome to Tiger Stadium after a week in which Miles and LSU team captains published a letter asking fans to be mindful of the shootings at Virginia Tech's campus last April. The venomous chants of "Tiger Bait!" that normally greet visiting team buses outside the stadium were all but muted while many fans clapped respectfully instead.

Shortly before kickoff, the record crowd of 92,739 stood in applause as public address announcer Dan Borne asked them to "celebrate the resiliency and pride of the Virginia Tech community."

Then a trio of sky divers landed on the field, one flying a banner of Virginia Tech orange and maroon with a red ribbon in the center.

Then, for the first time in the 114 years of football at LSU, the Tiger marching band played the visiting team's alma mater before the national anthem.

The Southern hospitality ended there.

LSU bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first nine minutes on methodical drives of 87 and 86 yards. Hester and Flynn capped the Tigers' first two possessions with short rushing touchdowns, while LSU's defense did not allow a first down in the first quarter.

Blitzing safety Curtis Taylor set the tone when he put Glennon flat on his back three plays into Tech's first drive.

Williams showed off LSU's breakaway speed on offense, taking an option flip from Flynn and hurdling a tackler before accelerating down the sidelines, then cutting across the field, for his long touchdown.

Glennon lasted one more unproductive drive before Beamer replaced him with more mobile Taylor with about six minutes remaining in the first half.

"We felt like we needed some change, and Tyrod can run away from some of those guys," Beamer said. "I think we have the makings of a good football team. But we have a lot of work to do to get there, and that's the bottom line."

The only question for the Tigers is how much they close the gap in the polls between themselves and top-ranked Southern California, which was off this weekend.

Not that Tigers players will admit to dwelling on that yet.

"We don't worry about the rankings or anything like that," Curtis Taylor said. "USC -- that's future stuff."


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