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LSU regains its footing, title hopes

| Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, 6:16 p.m.
LSU coach Les Miles celebrates with his team after beating South Carolina in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (AP)

BATON ROUGE, La. — Sam Montgomery's musings led him to the conclusion that LSU has regained a certain focus, intensity and chemistry that had been lacking in recent weeks.

The proof came in the Tigers' 23-21 triumph Saturday night over previously undefeated South Carolina, which came in ranked No. 3. The result vaulted LSU up the rankings from ninth to sixth.

“At the beginning of the season, it was about the national championship. But at the end of the day, it's all about family. I think we got back to that,” Montgomery said. “Last year, we never would have talked about a national championship. We took it week by week by week by week, getting closer and closer.”

LSU (6-1, 2-1 SEC) looked like a team in a slide for the past several weeks, capped by a loss Oct. 6 at Florida in which first-year starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the rest of the offense were unable to reach the end zone.

“Maybe we needed a loss to be humbled, to get that hunger back, to get adversity knowing that everything doesn't come so easily,” said Montgomery, who had two sacks of South Carolina's Connor Shaw. “It was something we needed to wake us back (up), to get us playing tough, hard-nosed football.”

LSU, which hasn't dropped back-to-back games since 2008, extended its school-record home winning streak to 22 games. South Carolina (6-1, 4-1) was unable to extend its school-record 10-game winning streak. The Gamecocks also seemed to lose some of the swagger they had when they overwhelmed Georgia, 35-7, the previous week.

LSU outgained South Carolina by almost double — 406 to 211. The Tigers converted 11 of 19 third downs, compared to 3 of 13 for South Carolina. LSU had the ball for nearly 37 minutes.

“Our front seven didn't come to play,” said South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was in on six tackles but did not have a sack. “We gave up way too many yards and too many third-down conversions. We can't win like that.”

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