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Brandon Harris' big game helps LSU pull away from Western Kentucky

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LSU crushes Western Kentucky (1:05)

Leonard Fournette rushes for 150 yards and a touchdown while Brandon Harris passes for a career-high 286 yards in LSU's 48-20 win over Western Kentucky. (1:05)

BATON ROUGE, La. – Missing multiple defensive starters, No. 5 LSU faced a daunting challenge from Western Kentucky’s prolific offense on a rainy Saturday at Tiger Stadium.

At times, the Tigers’ defense looked totally lost without injured regulars Christian LaCouture, Tre'Davious White and Jalen Mills in the lineup, but a second-half surge helped LSU pull away for a 48-20 win.

Western Kentucky (6-2) still generated 428 yards of total offense -- led by quarterback Brandon Doughty’s 325 passing yards and three touchdowns -- but the Tigers (7-0) remained undefeated thanks to a career-high 286 passing yards from Brandon Harris and two key takeaways by sophomore Jamal Adams.

Here’s a recap:

What the win means for LSU: The Tigers enter their open date with a huge showdown at Alabama on the horizon. The good news is that LSU is still undefeated and didn’t have to rely solely on Heisman Trophy frontrunner Leonard Fournette (26 carries, 150 yards, TD) to win this game. Harris and the passing game looked good for a second straight week. The bad news is that the Tigers continue to struggle with breakdowns in pass coverage and on special teams.

What the loss means for Western Kentucky: The final score is not completely indicative of how much LSU had to fight to earn this win. This was a 17-13 game with 8:36 left in the third quarter after Doughty hit Antwane Grant with a 39-yard touchdown pass. LSU overpowered the Hilltoppers from there, but the Tigers didn’t put this win away until the fourth quarter. Fellow Conference USA teams are going to have a tough time beating Western Kentucky.

The game turned when ... : Trent Domingue gave LSU a 20-13 lead with a 43-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, and Adams followed with the game-changing play on the ensuing kickoff. Adams stripped return man Kylen Towner along the sideline and Nick Brossette recovered at the WKU 24. Three plays later, Fournette’s 1-yard touchdown run put the Tigers up 27-13.

Top play: LSU faced third-and-16 from its own 39 in the third quarter when Harris tossed a jump ball downfield to Tyron Johnson. The freshman receiver -- who came in with three catches for 6 yards this season -- outfought WKU defensive back Wonderful Terry for the ball at the 23 and outran Marcus Ward to the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown that gave LSU a 34-13 lead.