By Gregg Bell UW Director of Writing
BATON ROUGE, La. - In the end, the Huskies were no different that 222 of 286 teams that came in here before them on a Saturday Night in Death Valley.
Not even a tiger at practice or Shaquille O'Neal visiting their hotel this week could avoid Washington from losing 34-3 to physically dominant LSU Saturday night at roaring Tiger Stadium.
The No. 3 Bengal Tigers (2-0), who lost to Alabama in last season's national championship game, improved to 223-60-4 all-time in night home games in this raucous stadium.
Washington played without two injured starters on its young offensive line and with lead running back Jesse Callier lost for the season to knee injury sustained last week.
And it showed. The Huskies failed to score a touchdown for the first time in 21 games. That dates to Oct. 30, 2010, in a home shutout loss to Stanford during Steve Sarkisian's second season as coach.
Washington began the season with two quick touchdowns last week against San Diego State. Since then, the Huskies have scored three points on offense in seven quarters.
Keith Price was besieged all night by LSU's swarming defensive front. He finished 17 for 36 for 157 yards passing with one interception, in the second half well after this game was decided.
Price left with 2 minutes left, as Derrick Brown got his first action as a Husky.
The story of the physical dominance: Washington finished with 17 yards on 21 rushes. LSU gained 242 on 52 runs.
Washington gained 170 yards in all, to LSU's 437.
It was a second consecutive week of more questions than answers on offense for Washington (1-1), which sputtered for much of last week's opening, 21-12 win over San Diego State.
A Huskies contingent of nearly 6,000 swelled the crowd to 92,804, the second-largest crowd for a non-SEC game in Tiger Stadium history. They watched the Huskies take a 3-0 lead after getting a fumble on the opening kickoff - and then out-muscled throughout their deflating first half when this game was decided.
UW's only points were off a short field goal by Travis Coons, after Will Shamburger forced an LSU fumble to begin the game. Thomas Tutogi recovered at the LSU 20. Price nearly had a touchdown pass to Jaydon Mickens on third down in the back corner of the end zone, but the freshman could not keep his feet inbounds before he caught the ball.
That was as close as UW got.
The Huskies' offense began by throwing short, safe passes and screens to wide receivers and running backs in an attempt to slow LSU's vaunted pass rush. Then even those became problematic when Erik Kohler, who had moved from guard to tackle this week to replace injured Ben Riva, went out in the first quarter with a knee injury.
The Huskies didn't get consecutive first downs on a drive until their final one before half time, and LSU extended that drive by committing two penalties for offsides on third downs.
Two short punts from deep in Washington's end by Korey Durkee set up LSU with drive starts at the UW 38 and 47 in the first quarter. The Tigers dutifully turned those into touchdowns, a 21-yard run by Alfred Blue and 1 yard by fullback J.C. Copeland.
Washington's defense stopped LSU three times inside the 7, one a great pass defensed by Tre Watson in the end zone. That forced an 18-yard field goal by Drew Alleman that had LSU up 17-3 early in the second quarter.
Alleman's 32-yard field goal later in the second quarter made it 20-3 Tigers at halftime.
The Huskies rushed nine times for minus-11 yards in the half.
The total yards at the break: LSU 231, Washington 70. UW's final six possessions ended with punts, after the early field goal. They didn't gain any more than 29 yards on any of the seven drives.
A bright spot: The continued, incremental progress by the more-aggressive defense. Danny Shelton, all 320-plus pounds of the big defensive tackle, was all over the field. He was leaping over two players deep into the fourth quarter despite the deficit.
The Huskies come home next week to host Portland State at CenturyLink Field in their last non-conference game.
Check back soon here to GoHuskies.com for updates and postgame reaction.