LSU couldn’t get Western Kentucky’s offense off the field at times Saturday.
And the Tigers, usually so adept at taking care of the ball, were leaving it all over the Tiger Stadium turf.
No, Les Miles' 100th win as a college head coach wasn't always pretty. But even the hangover from a "Game of Century" win over Alabama couldn't stop Miles' Tigers from pulling away for a 42-9 win over WKU.
Jordan Jefferson played every LSU snap at quarterback through the game’s first three quarters and completed 8 of 14 passes for 168 yards while running back Alfred Blue added 119 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries for No. 1 LSU (10-0), which played its final non-conference game the week after its epic 9-6 win at Alabama.
"I don't think in any way that this was a passionate effort by our guys," Miles said. "They did the things they needed to do to insure victory."
It improved Miles to 100-38 for his career and 72-17 in his LSU career.
"I have been fortunate to lead a lot of quality teams onto the field," said Miles, who led LSU to 10-0 for the first time since 1958. "That doesn't happen without great assistants, players and teams. I am just a recipient of being with some real quality people."
Miles' milestone win was the first of the year as a starter for Jefferson, who came off the bench to help the Tigers win at Alabama last week and was rewarded by playing the majority of the snaps against the Hilltoppers.
"The decision made by the staff and myself on the quarterbacks was a one-game decision," Miles said. "We'll kind of go from there. I certainly liked how both quarterbacks played."
Jefferson played most of it, though Miles said it wasn't necessarily the plan to leave Lee, his starter for the season's first nine games, on the bench. Lee did play two fourth-quarter series, leading a touchdown drive on the first series.
"Jarrett Lee came in, took us down the field and did some of the things we asked him to do," Miles said. "I am not certain that he may not start some other games."
Miles said he used Jefferson more against a WKU defensive scheme that brought a lot of blitzes while playing man-to-man on receivers, a scheme he felt favored the more mobile Jeffeson. He said Jefferson's performance against Alabama, and the struggles of Lee, who was intercepted twice by the Tide, factored on the decision.
"We kind of liked how Jefferson played (against Alabama), Miles said. "I felt like he had an extra comfort. It was a game decision. We thought we may go with Lee a little earlier (than when he actually got in the game)."
Miles said the plan was to look for a moment to get Lee in the game starting with LSU's third possession, but "Western Kentucky proved that they could throw some wrinkles at us we did not anticipate," he said.
Bobby Rainey rushed for 85 yards on 28 carries for WKU (5-5), a Sun Belt Conference team that saw its five-game winning streak snapped. But the final score did not indicate how deep into the game the Hilltoppers kept it competitive.
After Kenny Hilliard’s second 1-yard touchdown run gave LSU a 21-7 lead with 8:58 left in the third quarter, a 72-yard kickoff return by Antonio Andrews got WKU deep in LSU territory. The Tigers needed a goal-line stand, stopping WKU twice at the 1-yard line on third and fourth down, drawing a roar from the crowd for what was a pivotal play late in the third quarter.
From there, LSU was finally off to the expected homecoming rout.
"We played tough," Rainey said. "We had a lot of confidence going into the game and it showed starting out in the the first half. We just didn't have the same intensity that we had in the first half in the second half."
On a night where LSU staggered to a lethargic 14-7 halftime lead and nursed a 21-9 lead late in the third quarter after a safety following the goal-line stand, Tigers depth played a huge role. Western Kentucky stayed close for keeping the ball for 20:01 of the first half while an LSU team that has been so adept at taking care of the ball fumbled four times, half its total of the season’s first nine games.
But aided by the running of Blue, LSU’s third tailback, LSU was able to pull away. Blue’s 45-yard touchdown run with 2:53 left in the third quarter gave LSU a 28-9 lead. He added a 4-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. LSU’s third fullback, Hilliard, added a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs.
"That could have been a bit part of it today," WKU coach Willie Taggart said of LSU's depth advantage. "When they bring a new guy in only the number is different."
LSU’s first touchdown came on a perfect 59-yard touchdown bomb from Jefferson to Rueben Randle. Lee added a 5-yard touchdown pass to Kadron Boone.
After Randle’s touchdown, WKU answered with a 2-yard touchdown by Keshawn Simpson at the end of a 10-play, 65-yard drive.
LSU backup linebacker Tahj Jones also had an interception for the Tigers.
Michael Ford rushed for 62 yards on 11 carries for LSU. Starting running back Spencer Ware was limited to six carries for 39 yards. LSU spread the wealth with six tailbacks getting at least one carry.
Randle was quiet after his early touchdown, catching three passes for 76 yards.