LSU scores first shutout of Tulane since 1969

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU can prepare for Saban Bowl III with a little more swagger.

Brandon LaFell caught two touchdown passes, moving him into second on LSU's career list, and the ninth-ranked Tigers shut out Tulane for the first time since 1969, 42-0 on Saturday night.

"We needed a game like this," said LaFell, whose 22 career touchdown catches places him four behind Dwayne Bowe. "The reason is because we had a big game against Auburn two weeks ago and our biggest goal this week was to not take any steps back.

"That is the same thing we know we are going to have to do next week to be able to beat a really good Alabama team."

Charles Scott rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and freshman Russell Shepard scored his second career TD -- and second in two games -- with a 19-yard run. Jordan Jefferson threw for 163 yards and two scores, both to LaFell.

LSU (7-1) now can set its sights firmly on next weekend's trip to Tuscaloosa and a third meeting with former coach Nick Saban, with the lead in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division riding on the outcome.

"It is our championship game next week," Jefferson said. "We are going to prepare ourselves for Alabama and come out ready to fight."

Although everyone in Baton Rouge has been talking about Alabama for a while now, the Tigers seemed to have little trouble maintaining focus on their struggling old rivals from New Orleans. Coach Les Miles had implored his players to seize this game as an opportunity to improve before its final three SEC games.

"We needed to test ourselves in all three phases and answer those challenges -- and we did," Miles said. "Each opponent certainly possesses different, very specific challenges. Next week's opponent certainly is different than the team we just played."

On the 50th anniversary of Billy Cannon's Halloween night, 89-yard punt return to beat Ole Miss, LSU's Trindon Holliday was unable to take a punt all the way back. He did, however, have a pair of 50-yard returns, the second setting up Scott's second touchdown.

Tulane (2-6) has lost four consecutive games this season and 18 straight to the Tigers since the Green Wave's last victory in the series in 1982. That also was Tulane's last win against a Top-25 team. The Wave has lost 38 straight against ranked teams, including BYU and Houston this season.

Tulane had only two decent scoring chances, both on second-quarter drives inside the LSU 20. The first ended when Tulane lost yards on two plays before Ross Thevenot hooked a 43-yard field-goal attempt wide left. The next stalled when Ryan Griffin's tipped pass was intercepted by Patrick Peterson.

"It's a little bit of a mismatch regardless of what people want to say," Tulane coach Bob Toledo said. "They're a great football team. They're bigger, stronger and faster than we are. Their Xs and Os are bigger than our Xs and Os. OK? Plain and simple."

Griffin, a redshirt freshman, was making only his second career start against one of the toughest defenses in the country. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 163 yards. He was sacked twice and intercepted once. Tulane's Jeremy Williams had 157 total yards, including 78 yards receiving on eight catches.

Jefferson was an efficient 11 for 17 passing, with one interception. LSU finished with a 455-216 advantage in total yards.

While Tulane's defense forced a punt on LSU's first possession, the Tigers quickly seized momentum when Daniel Graff blocked Thevenot's punt and Stefoin Francois recovered, advancing the ball to the 23-yard line. It was the second time this season Tulane had a punt blocked and the first time LSU had blocked one since LaRon Landry did it at Florida in 2006.

Two plays later, Shepard scored on an elusive run in which he changed direction and cut back across the field.

Late in the first quarter, Jefferson rolled away from pressure and spotted LaFell open near the goal line for a 39-yard score. LaFell's second touchdown reception early in the fourth made it 35-0 and put LaFell one TD reception ahead of Michael Clayton on LSU's list.

Scott, who became the first LSU player this season to eclipse 100-yard rushing in a game, scored on 4- and 8-yard runs in the second and third quarters. His second touchdown gave him 32 rushing TDs for his career, moving him into fourth on LSU's career list, one ahead of Terry Robiskie. Scott, a senior, will be hard pressed to catch leader Kevin Faulk, who had 46.