No. 3 LSU 63, Idaho 14

LSU defenders had their hands in the air even before they

started celebrating interception returns for touchdowns.

Tigers safety Ronald Martin and defensive end Lavar Edwards each

snagged deflected passes and returned them for scores, helping No.

3 LSU pull away for a 63-14 victory over winless Idaho on Saturday

night.

The victory gave LSU (3-0) an NCAA FBS record 40th-straight

non-conference regular season victory, surpassing Kansas State’s 39

from 1993-2003. LSU also set a Tiger Stadium mark with 20 straight

home wins, while extending its nation-long regular-season winning

streak to 16 games.

”Everybody can see that we can be a dominant football team,”

LSU coach Les Miles said.

While LSU extended winning streaks, No. 2 Southern Cal lost to

Stanford 21-14, a result that could move the Tigers up a spot in

the poll behind No. 1 Alabama, a 52-0 winner at Arkansas.

LSU intercepted Idaho’s Dominique Blackman four times. Martin, a

sophomore making his first start with Craig Loston getting the

night off, had two, both off deflections by cornerback Jalen

Collins. Both also resulted in touchdowns.

”The play by Collins really was the play,” Miles said of

Martin’s interceptions. ”That is pure textbook. … It’s that

safety playing the eyes of the quarterback that can be late to the

scene and make that interception. Those were big-time plays.”

Martin’s first interception was a diving catch at the Idaho 30,

setting up a six-play drive of all runs and ended with Alfred

Blue’s 3-yard score.

Martin made his second interception while balancing along the

sideline, then ran it back 45 yards for the score.

Martin said he intended to deliver a hit as he converged on the

ball when he saw it pop up off Collins’ hand.

”Once he tipped it and I saw daylight, after that, I was

gone,” Martin said. ”It was the tip-drill just like you learn in

practice.”

Edwards’ interception came when he tipped the ball to himself at

the line of scrimmage, then lumbered to the outside, spinning away

from one would-be tackler to the delight of the Tiger Stadium crowd

before carrying another tackler across the goal line on a 23-yard

return.

”Whenever I get the ball in my hands, especially being a

defensive lineman, we don’t get those opportunities too much,”

Edwards said. ”So whenever I get it, you know I try my hardest to

make sure I get” to the end zone.

The two defensive scores matched Idaho’s point total for the

night.

”You have to be right all the time when you play somebody like

those guys,” Idaho coach Robb Akey said of LSU. ”When they made

those plays against us we couldn’t overcome those things in the

ballgame and that’s the bottom line.”

LSU’s offense showed plenty of punch despite several sloppy

first-half drives that had the crowd groaning a bit.

Zach Mettenberger completed 17 of 22 passes for 222 yards with

TD passes of 17 yards to Kadron Boone and 7 yards to Jarvis Landry.

Kenny Hilliard rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns – one of 71

yards – giving him six TDs this season.

Freshman running back Jeremy Hill made his LSU debut in the

fourth quarter and scored two short touchdowns.

Blackman was 23 of 36 for 174 yards and two TDs passes.

”I need to step up my game,” Blackman said. ”We have a lot to

prove. We came out here and competed with a great team. You have to

give it up to that defense. They hit me hard tonight and it was

fun.”

Gary Walker had a 94-yard interception return for Idaho (0-3),

setting up the Vandals’ first touchdown.

Earlier in the week, Miles alluded to opening up the passing

attack in the Tigers’ final game before beginning their

Southeastern Conference schedule at Auburn next Saturday.

On LSU’s first offensive play, Mettenberger hit Russell Shepard

down the left sideline for 33 yards and soon after found Boone for

the receiver’s third TD of the season.

Shepard finished with three catches for 68 yards, while Odell

Beckham Jr. had four catches for 73 yards.

LSU was looking to take a three-TD lead when Mettenberger threw

an interception near an opponent’s goal line for the second time

this season. Walker caught it at the 1, but was caught by Beckham

at the LSU 5.

That set up Blackman’s 4-yard TD toss to Michael LaGrone.

Martin’s score made it 21-7, but Idaho drove 81 yards on seven

plays to pull to 21-14 on Blackman’s 22-yard scoring pass to Jahrie

Level.

Idaho then sacked Mettenberger twice to stall LSU’s next drive,

getting the ball back for a potential game-tying drive on its own

12.

That’s when the Vandals got the Death Valley jitters, committing

three straight false starts before punting from their end zone.

Mettenberger closed the half with his scoring strike to Landry

to make it 28-14.

”That slow start in the first half I put on myself,”

Mettenberger said. ”We knew that my mistake really cost us in the

first half and we knew we just had to go out and play LSU football

in the second half and turn things around.”