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Russell, LSU pick apart Mississippi State

Sep 30, 2006 - 8:30 PM BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Ticker) -- JaMarcus Russell was one incompletion away from a perfect first half against Mississippi State.

Russell directed touchdown drives on the first five possessions as ninth-ranked LSU manhandled Mississippi State, 48-17, in a Southeastern Conference matchup that featured a 52-minute lightning delay in the third quarter.

Russell completed 13-of-14 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Tigers (4-1, 1-1 SEC West) scored the game's first 35 points en route to posting their seventh straight victory over the Bulldogs (1-4, 0-3 West).

"I would never say it was easy, but we were scoring pretty quick," said Russell, who set a school record for passing yards in a half.

A junior, Russell finished 18-of-20 for a career-high 330 yards. He tied school marks for consecutive completions (14) and completion percentage with a minimum 20 attempts (90).

"Obviously, JaMarcus Russell's passing today was great," LSU coach Les Miles said. "He performs when he's called on."

In the first half, LSU collected 302 yards and limited Mississippi State to 73, including minus-five on the ground. The Tigers, who came in first in the nation in scoring defense (5.0 points per game) and second in total defense (185.25 yards), held the Bulldogs to 227 total yards, including 14 rushing.

"A lot of it had to do with LSU, but we weren't there either, particularly on defense," Bulldogs coach Sylvester Croom said. "We had a lot of errors on the coverage, which we haven't been having, and the thing about it is we're doing the same stuff - guys just not being in the right place, and there was hesitation."

The Tigers opened a three-touchdown lead before the Bulldogs even picked up a first down. Russell threw touchdown passes of nine yards to Craig Davis and 37 yards to Early Doucet around a six-yard run by Charles Scott for a 21-0 cushion with 3:40 to play in the first quarter.

Scott scored on a one-yard run on the first play of the second period before Russell found Dwayne Bowe for a six-yard TD and a 35-0 lead with 10:35 to play in the half.

"That's the best I've seen him," Bowe said of Russell. "He's at his peak."

The game was delayed by lightning with 10:31 to play in the third quarter.

"The intermission probably affected our play, but I don't know to what extent," Miles said.

The Tigers beat the Bulldogs for the 14th time in their past 15 meetings. They trounced Mississippi State, 51-0, in 2004 and posted a 37-7 win in Starkville last year.

The last two seasons, Russell is a combined 39-of-44 for 535 yards, five TDs and no interceptions.

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