The ReliaQuest Bowl began with more of the same in 2024 for LSU.

Big production from Malik Nabers, the LSU offense overall and a soft defense against Wisconsin. But the defense did just enough in the final minute to seal a win 35-31.

While the pregame storylines focused on Garrett Nussmeier making his first start and ushering in the post-Jayden Daniels era, the LSU defense also was cause for concern most of the season.

The patient 3rd-year sophomore made his first college start, and stepped in for the Heisman Trophy winner. Daniels, who threw for 3,812 yards and ran for 1,134 while also accounting for 50 touchdowns, opted out of the SEC-Big Ten matchup at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida to prepare for the NFL draft.

But yards were easy to come by as the teams eclipsed 1,000 yards combined with 1:55 remaining in the game. There were 47 first downs by that point and both teams averaged at least 7 yards per play.

In the end, LSU secured a 10th win for the second straight season.

Here are our takeaways:

Clutch drive to take the lead

LSU and Nussmeier produced a clutch drive that ended with 3:08 remaining as LSU went ahead by 4 points. Nussmeier connected with Brian Thomas Jr. for a 4-yard touchdown, his 2nd of the game. That gave Thomas 8 catches for 98 yards.

That also gave Nussmeier a passing mark of 31-for-45 for 395 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Malik Nabers, career yardage record-holder

Malik Nabers, LSU’s most productive receiver this season, had 3 catches for 23 yards in the first half, but an 11-yard catch made him LSU’s career yardage record holder. The catch put him at 3,004 career yards, and that broke the record of 3,001 set by Josh Reed from 1999-2001

Nabers finished the 2023 season with the most total receiving yards (1,546) and the highest yards per game average (128.8) in the country. Plus, he caught the seventh-most passes (86) and the second-most touchdowns (14) this season.

Soft defense, again

Wisconsin QB Tanner Mordecai came in with 6 touchdown passes this season. But in the first half alone, Mordecai rang up 3 more as he was 14-for-20 passing for 219 yards. Wisconsin produced 304 total yards in the first half, including 232 yards passing. Those total yards was the most for Wisconsin in a half since the 2012 Rose Bowl when it had 295.

LSU was even past its trends from the season, when it allowed 409.2 yards per game, only ahead of Vanderbilt in the SEC. That was 104th in the country.

However, LSU at least recovered on defense after halftime as Wisconsin didn’t score in the 4th quarter. With 38 seconds left and Wisconsin facing a 4th and 25, LSU swallowed up Mordecai to seal the win.