The Tigers and Wildcats are set for a Texas Bowl match-up in Houston. This will be the first time since 1980 the two teams have met. The Tigers won that meeting in Baton Rouge, 21-0
The Wildcats won the toss and elected to receive. Kansas State wants to attack this depleted LSU defense.
The Tigers come out in their 4-2-5 nickel package. Pig Cage, walks down, and LSU brings pressure with the young nickel back. He gets to Thompson and gets the sack. Tigers looking good on defense early.
Kansas State was bottled up and was able to convert on 4th down. The Wildcats scored on a 25 yard pass from Thompson to Knowles.
On offense, the Tigers look like a walking infirmary. Jontre Kirklin will get the start at quarterback for the LSU. This will be his first start at QB since 2016, his senior year at Lutcher. A year he lead the Bulldogs to win the 3A State Championship.
Unfortunately, on their first drive, the Tigers would amass negative two yards, and go three and out.
On their next drive, the Wildcats would come out, and put together the longest drive in Texas Bowl history. Spanning 18 plays and taking 9:16 off the clock. The Wildcats would again find the end zone and go up by two scores.
On the Tigers next possession Kirklin threw an errant pass that was intended for Chris Hilton, but was picked off by Russ Yeast. Just six plays later, the Wildcats would be back in the end zone. Making it 21-0
The Tigers would rally, Kirklin would put points on the board after a 13 play, 75 yard drive near the end of the first half. Kirklin would hit Jaray Jenkins in the end zone for a 23 yard touchdown.
At 21-7, heading into halftime, it still feels like the Tigers have a punchers chance. They will receive the ball coming out after the half. The last thing you want to do is go three and out and give the ball right back to the Wildcats.
K State held LSU to seven yards and a three and out. The Tigers punted to the Wildcats and they’d score with ease. Driving 61 yards to the end zone the Wildcats would pretty much put the game out of reach 28-7.
The Tigers would get the ball back and with time dwindling in the third quarter, Jontre Kirklin would throw his second interception of the game. The Wildcats, already smelling blood in the water, seized on the opportunity. Three plays and 55 yards later Kansas State was on the board again. 35-7.
However, with as bad as things looked in this game, there are positives.
Jontre Kirklin became only the third player in LSU history to throw three touchdowns in a bowl game. The previous two; Matt Flynn, and Joe Burrow in three times.
With players opting out to prepare for the NFL combine, many younger players got to fill roles left by those leaving. Greg Penn III and freshman nickel defender Pig Cage had a break out games. Cage had a sack and three TFLs. While Penn III was second on the team in tackles. “We’re going to have more experience going into next year” said BJ Ojulari. “The younger guys got a shot tonight.”
Corey Kiner carried the ball tonight 14 times for 53 yards. Although not the biggest stat of the night, Kiner runs angry and because of his smaller stature, looks like Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I’ve even seen him put the trademark spin move on defenders more than once in a game. I cannot wait until next season to see this young man’s development.
Many believed that LSU should have not played in this bowl game. Choosing to instead opt out. Intern head coach Brad Davis wanted this for the Tigers and believed even with the depleted ranks they still could have won. “There’s 10 seniors in our locker room who wanted to play” said Davis. “We were not going to cheat them of that opportunity. We won’t back down from a challenge. That’s not who LSU is.”