Nussmeier shines as Daniels’ successor, No. 13 LSU rallies to beat nip Wisconsin 35-31 in ReliaQuest Bowl

TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Garrett Nussmeyer threw for 395 yards and three touchdowns as 13th-ranked LSU ushered in the post-Jaden Daniels era with a 35-31 win over Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Monday.

Stepping up to make his first college start after 2023 Heisman Trophy winner Daniels opted to begin preparing for the NFL Draft, Nussmeyer completed 31 of 45 passes. He threw TD passes of 14 yards to Chris Hilton Jr. and 38 and 4 yards to Brian Thomas Jr., whose second touchdown put LSU ahead with 3:08 remaining.

Nussmeyer led the Tigers (10-3) to 14 points in the second half behind a stellar performance by Wisconsin's Tanner Mordecai, who threw for a season-high 378 yards and three TDs for the Badgers (7-6), who Played without star running back Braylon Allen.

Nussmeyer, who turned 22 in February, had appeared in 17 games over three years at LSU, including five this season, while Daniels was compiling impressive stats — 3,812 yards and 40 TDs passing, 1,134 yards passing. And 10 TD rushing - on the way to winning the Heisman.

The Tigers got off to a slow start – trailing 14–0 after one quarter, 21–14 at halftime and 31–28 in the fourth quarter.

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Nussmeyer completed passes of 37 yards to Kieran Lacey and 43 yards to Hilton to set up the winning touchdowns. Thomas had eight catches for 98 yards, while Lacey had six catches for 97 yards for the Tigers.

Mordecai, a sixth-year senior playing his final college game, completed 27 of 40 passes without an interception for the Badgers, who gained over 500 yards of total offense despite playing without Allen, who was eliminated from the bowl game. Opted out because he was declaring for the NFL.

Mordecai threw for 7,152 yards and 72 touchdowns in two seasons at SMU before transferring to Wisconsin, where his arrival – along with the addition of several transfer receivers and Air Raid disciple Phil Longo as offensive coordinator – created expectations that the Badgers would be on the brink. But they were abandoning their traditional steady run-oriented attack and bowling more balls.

But Mordecai, who missed three games due to a broken throwing hand, threw for only six touchdowns during the regular season.

Wisconsin: Mordecai had the first 300-yard game by a Badgers quarterback since September 2019, offering a glimpse of the direction of the offense next season when Tyler Van Dyke, who is transferring from Miami, is the starting quarterback. Expected to open as.

LSU: The Tigers are confident Nussmeyer has what it takes to succeed in 2024, including a strong returning supporting cast. LSU led the nation in total offense (547.8 yards per game) and scoring (46.4). One of coach Brian Kelly's priorities will be to improve a defense that allows 409.2 yards passing and 27.75 yards per game.

Wisconsin: The Badgers will open next season against Western Michigan and South Dakota before hosting Alabama on September 14.

LSU: The Tigers will open the 2024 schedule on Sept. 1 against Southern California in the Vegas Kickoff Classic.

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