Offense: C

Yes, the Tigers finished with 28 points, enough to beat a Top 15 team in Wisconsin. But it thrived on big plays, including four passes for a combined 187 yards. (Outside of three completions to Travin Dural, quarterback Anthony Jennings was 6-of-18 for 88 yards.) LSU was beyond mediocre on third down for most of the night.

Even with 77 fourth-quarter rushing yards, the Tigers, with a good offensive line and an excellent backfield, finished with less than three yards per carry. And that big fourth quarter came after Wisconsin’s big nose tackle, Warren Herring, got hurt (starting defensive end Konrad Zagzebski left the field on a stretcher earlier in the game.)

LSU does get credit for those big plays, including a 36-yard John Diarse touchdown catch and a 28-yard Kenny Hilliard touchdown run, but it’s not enough to excuse the lack of production and lethargy through about two-and-a-half quarters.

Defense: C+

The team held Tanner McEvoy to 8-for-24 for 50 yards and two interceptions without starting cornerback Rashard Robinson, but Wisconsin’s passing game may be atrocious. (Down four points and starting a drive on its own 10-yard line with 2:23 left, the Badgers ran the ball.)

The Tigers shut down Melvin Gordon and the running game late, but again, some of that was a function of play-calling. The Badgers ran for 268 yards at 6.9 yards per carry, and most of that came through three quarters (Gordon had 14 carries for 139 rushing yards entering the fourth).

Takeaways by Ronald Martin and Jalen Mills were crucial to the outcome, and LSU controlled the game late when Wisconsin needed to throw. Still, the team played soft up front for much of the contest, missed some tackles and took poor angles on others. 

Special Teams: B+

Jamie Keehn shanked a few punts early, and Leonard Fournette did just OK on kick returns. But the converted fake punt on fourth-and-3 turned the game, and Colby Delahoussaye made field goals of 30 and 47 yards. LSU’s kick and punt coverage teams played very well.

Coaching: B-

This wasn’t the best coaching job Les Miles, Cam Cameron, John Chavis and company have ever done. Granted, he team played passive, nervous football for more than a half. Wisconsin isn’t as athletic, yet the Badgers played faster and more physical football for most of the game. Still, Miles had the guts to call for the fake punt, and the coaches get credit for a well-executed kill once they smelled blood.

Overall: B+

LSU came within about 20 minutes of game time of an embarrassing prime time loss to a Big Ten team weakened by key losses. But the Tigers showed grit in the rally. Ultimately, the team won the football game, and they’ll roll to 3-0 with Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe on the horizon.

The team will get Malachi Dupre, Robinson and a few others back from injury and suspensions. It also needs to get Fournette (eight carries, 18 yards) on track, solidify the quarterback position (Jennings? Brandon Harris? Both?) and figure out how to play loose from the opening kickoff.

This team needs to evolve and grow up in some significant ways. But Tigers fans will accept 1-0, particularly when it means overcoming a 17-point deficit to a Top 15 program at a neutral site with plenty of inexperienced and young players.