Once the fog that covered the field during the Tigers' late-game runaway lifted, the Bengals had scored 20 unanswered points and put another top-notch opponent away.
Tigers coach Les Miles doesn't think his Tigers are the best team in the country.
"I like the position we're in, but I don't believe we're the best team in college football today," Miles said in a media briefing after the game. "There is hope, want and desire to be there, but I don't know if we're good enough right now to do everything we want to do. That's putting the horse before the cart."
Much maligned LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee led the Tigers attack early, then turned it over to the high-powered running backs who are improving every week. Lee had 132 of his 180 passing yards and all three touchdowns in the first half. He finished 16-of-28 passing without an interception or a sack. Last season Jordan Jefferson threw two interceptions against the Mountaineers.
Meanwhile, Tigers running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford carried the offense as the Tigers pulled away. Ware had 92 yards on 23 carries, while Ford scored twice and had 82 yards on 12 carries. Alfred Blue also scored an 18-yard touchdown late in the game.
WR Rueben Randle was Lee's favorite target, leading the way with six catches and 53 yards including an 11-yard touchdown that opened the scoring. Lee also dropped a what have been a touchdown pass in the end zone. Freshman Odell Beckham Jr. added a pair of catches for 82 yards with a 52-yard touchdown, his first as a Tiger.
"I was pleased with our running game and defense," said Miles.
On the other side, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith set school records for passes (65), completions (38) and yards (463) with two touchdowns. However, the threw two interceptions and fumbled in the final quarter. Smith wasn't sacked, but was kept in the pocket most of the night.
"Jarrett Lee played a good game," Mountaineers defensive end Bruce Irvin said after the game. "He managed the game well and he got their guys calm when we started to make a little run. He kept them together as a good quarterback does."
Just before halftime, Tigers CB Tyrann Mathieu batted a ball into the air, caught it at the West Virginia 17 and ran to the 1. Lee found Chase Clement in the end zone and put the Tigers ahead 27-7. Mathieu was all over the field most of the evening.
And now it's up to the voters to decide whether the Tigers deserve to move up to No. 1 ahead of Oklahoma, which came from 11 points down to beat Missouri 38-28 on Saturday night.
Should the Tigers move up to No. 1? Short answer: Yes. Will they? Short answer: No.
How others see Tigers...
SI.com: "For all Les Miles' Mad Hatter designations, and they are many and deserved, the 2011 Tigers have a by-the-numbers plan that's now carried them past three ranked teams in four weeks of play, and all on the road. The No. 2 Bayou Bengals' same old tricks on defense (they're fond of one scheme in particular where every one of their defenders is better than every one their opponents', by an embarrassing margin), lockstep special teams play and a continued glaring lack of mistakes from Jarrett Lee powered them past No. `16 West Virginia in a kind of clenched-teeth cruise control."
TIGER TRACKS: 3, 4, 5, 11, 8, 9, The yard lines in Mountaineers territory where punter Brad Wing dropped diabolically placed balls oon hissix punts. (Out of action due to injury since Week 1). Hew appears to have mad ea complete recovery...A chartered bus carrying LSU fans to Morgantown broke down somewhere in Maryland and the Tigers faithful they rented a fleet of 20 cabs to ferry them to the game...
At a 13-point deficit, Mountaineers partisans were hollering like the game was tied. Down 40-21, there remained a volume of students in seats that would have put certain SEC fanbases to shame
by Ed Staton
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