BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron chuckled when asked what he told the Tigers at halftime of what was then a 10-all stalemate with heavy underdog Southern Mississippi.
The implication was that it was not entirely fit for public consumption. And Orgeron could laugh about it because the Tigers’ dominance from that point forward left the coach with the impression that he’d been well understood.
Derrius Guice broke loose for touchdowns of 61 and 20 yards early in the third quarter, and LSU added a couple more long scoring plays while scoring 35 unanswered second-half points in a 45-10 victory on Saturday night.
“I think our guys woke up a little bit at halftime and just decided to play hard,” Orgeron said. “I just challenged them.”
LSU safety Jamal Adams helped the Tigers pull away when he forced Golden Eagles’ running back George Payne’s fumble and then recovered it at the USM 26-yard line, setting up Guice’s second score.
“We were a little frustrated” at halftime, Adams said. “Just as a leader I wanted to rally the guys back. … We wanted to come out and give them no more points.”
In the span of the third quarter, LSU (4-2) built a 28-point lead.
“The third quarter was just a bad quarter,” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said. “It was bang, bang, bang and it went from a ball game either way to being down 21 points in what seemed like 3 minutes.”
All five of the Tigers’ second-half TDs came from beyond 20 yards, with three going for more than 60.
“Here’s the deal. We want to take shots. We want to be explosive,” Orgeron said, stressing that he wants opposing defenses to pay for selling out to stop the Tigers’ deep and powerful running game. “That was, I think, one of the most (significant) improvements in the game.”
Etling finished with his best numbers since taking over as starter in the third game of the season, completing 11 of 18 passes for 276 yards and three TDs.
Dupre added another touchdown on a 23-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Chark also scored a 19-yard rushing touchdown on an end-around in the first half.
Ito Smith scored the lone TD for Southern Miss (4-3) on a 1-yard run that gave the Golden Eagles their only lead at 7-0. Golden Eagles QB Nick Mullens completed 25 of 36 passes for 161 yards.
Guice finished with 162 yards on 16 carries in his third start this season in place of Leonard Fournette, who is recovering from a left ankle injury and has not played since LSU’s loss at Auburn on Sept. 24.
The 5-foot-11, 212-pound Guice has rushed for 155 yards or more in each of his starts.
Guice gave LSU the lead for good when he bolted through a gaping hole blown open by guard Maea Teuhema, center Andy Dodd and tackle K.J. on the left side of LSU’s offensive line and galloped into the clear for a career-long scoring run .
“The linemen did a great job of setting it up for me and the rest is history, because I’m not going to get caught from behind,” Guice said.
While Guice’s first touchdown demonstrated his break-away speed, his second showcased his elusiveness as he darted forward and then cut suddenly outside to elude would-be tacklers.
Orgeron said he is optimistic Fournette will play next weekend.
Southern Miss dominated time of possession, 37:59 to 22:01 and ran 73 total plays to LSU’s 42. LSU’s big plays rendered those statistical advantages insignificant.
LSU cornerback Kevin Toliver was benched the first half for breaking an unspecified team rule, Orgeron said, adding that several other starters’ snaps were limited early on because “we just had some other guys that didn’t practice the way they should. You’ve got to practice hard to play.”
LSU, a leading vote-getter among unranked teams in the AP Top 25 Poll this past week, could be ranked again after two straight resounding victories since Orgeron took over in late September.
Southern Mississippi: The Golden Eagles have play makers and the ability to compete in spurts with Power-5 conference teams, but need help for a beleaguered defense that has now allowed 100 points in its last two games.
LSU: The Tigers have the elite talent to turn it on suddenly and crush an underdog from a mid-major conference — and might be trending in the right direction to make a run in the Southeastern Conference.
Southern Mississippi: The Golden Eagles are off next week before hosting Marshall on Oct. 29.
LSU: The Tigers host No. 12 Mississippi this coming Saturday night in a pivotal mid-season clash in the SEC West race. It is also the first of five straight SEC games to close the season for LSU.
More AP college football: http://collegfootball.ap.org