HOUSTON — Leonard Fournette didn’t rack up the 300-yard game many were predicting he would get Tuesday night against one of the worst rushing defenses in the nation.
Incredibly, Fournette did just about everything else in LSU’s 56-27 demolition of Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl in NRG Stadium.
Fournette capped a brilliant sophomore season with his fourth 200-yard rushing game and scored five times — including four rushing and one receiving — to tie the NCAA bowl-game record for touchdowns from scrimmage.
That was just the start, however.
Fournette, who rushed for 212 yards on 29 carries, had touchdown runs of 2, 43, 4 and 2 yards to push his total for the season to 22 — shattering the school record of 19 by LaBrandon Toefield in 2001.
For good measure, Fournette, who was voted the game’s MVP, also scored on a 44-yard screen pass from Brandon Harris in the second period as LSU broke its bowl-game scoring record. That mark was set in the Tigers’ 47-34 bashing of Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl.
“I’d say tonight was productive,” Fournette said after his record-setting evening. “Our goal was to win this game just to boost us for next season, you know, and I think that was done.”
On paper, it may have looked like a routine game for Fournette, who had three consecutive 200-yard rushing games earlier this season to set a Southeastern Conference record.
It was anything but a routine performance in the eyes of LSU coach Les Miles.
“This is a night that Leonard Fournette would have again and again and again,” Miles said. “I wouldn’t call it routine, because he is not a routine runner. He is a special back; you would expect him to have nights like this.
“He’s fast and strong and capable, and he is one of the more competitive men I know.”
Fournette finished the season with 1,953 rushing yards, just 47 shy of the 2,000-yard mark.
“He’d have liked to have gotten 47 more yards,” Miles said. “If we could have expanded the fourth quarter just a couple more minutes, we may have gotten it for him.”
When Fournette went over the 100-yard mark in the third quarter, it was the 10th time he’d done that this season — tying the school mark set by Charles Alexander in 1977.
Fournette, who rushed for 81 yards and a 2-yard touchdown on 14 first-half carries, really got going in the second half when Texas Tech pulled within 21-20.
Just four plays later, he raced untouched up the middle to the end zone for a 43-yard TD — his longest run from scrimmage since an 87-yard dash against South Carolina on Oct. 10 — to push LSU’s lead to 28-20.
That opened the floodgates for the Tigers as they scored twice more in the period to take a comfortable 42-20 lead into the final period.
Fournette got his fourth touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run in the third quarter, then completed his night with a 2-yard scoring blast with 8:16 left.
“You could see they were kind of getting tired,” Fournette said of a Texas Tech defense that ranked 125th out of 127 FBS teams in allowing 271.8 yards rushing per game. “They were smaller than us, and we just kept running it down their throat.”
LSU rushed for 384 yards and a 9.6 average on 40 attempts, with Fournette doing the most damage.
“A guy that’s as competitive as Leonard, coming into this game he wanted to prove that he is the running back everybody believes he is,” LSU guard Vadal Alexander said.
It was the second straight monster bowl game for Fournette, who ended his freshman season with 143 yards and two TDs — one on an 89-yard run. He added a 100-yard kickoff return for another TD in a loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl.
In the two bowls, Fournette has 355 rushing yards, 44 receiving yards and eight touchdowns — six rushing, one receiving and one kickoff return.
“My job is to run the ball each and every play on each and every down,” Fournette said. “Those guys (his offensive line) are going hard for me. They’re opening holes for me, so my job is to run the ball.”
He certainly did.