No. 3 LSU 41,
North Texas 14
Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue rewarded Les Miles’ decision to designate them as LSU’s top two running backs in the season opener, and they more than compensated for any shortcomings associated with Zach Mettenberger’s first start.
Hilliard rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 3 LSU opened its season with a 41-14 victory over North Texas on Saturday night.
While the heavily favored Tigers were never threatened, their performance did not always thrill a Death Valley crowd that eagerly awaited evidence that LSU’s passing game would be much improved with Mettenberger under center.
Mettenberger, who was briefly sidelined by a sack, was 19 of 26 for 192 yards, an interception and a TD.
Derek Thompson completed only 8 of 21 passes, but two passes were scoring strikes of 80 and 15 yards to Brelan Chancellor.
Odell Beckham Jr. ran a punt back 70 yards for a score. He nearly had two returns for scores, but his 76-yard runback was negated by Jarvis Landry’s illegal block.
Landry made up for it with eight catches for 82 yards.
STARS OF THE GAME
ä With Zach Mettenberger shaken up early and the passing game sputtering, running back Kenny Hilliard was the stabilizing influence. He rushed for 141 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns on runs of 38 and 5 yards to help LSU build a 24-0 lead.
ä Alfred Blue kept the ball moving on the ground when Hilliard wasn’t. Blue, who emerged from a group of four as the starting halfback during preseason camp, didn’t get into the end zone but he rushed for 123 yards on a team-high 16 carries.
ä Odell Beckham Jr.’s 70-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter on their way to an early 24-0 lead. Though the Mean Green showed some life late in the second quarter and trailed just 27-7 after three quarters, they were never in position after Beckham’s punt return to seriously threaten LSU.
Coming this week at http://theadvocate.com/sports:
ä Listen to a podcast with Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais at 7 p.m.
ä Chat with Advocate sportswriter Les East at 3 p.m.
ä Listen to the audio from LSU coach Les Miles’ Tuesday news conference.
ä Visit the Tiger Tracks blog to get updates on the SEC coaches teleconference which begins at 11 a.m.
ä Chat with WBRZ-TV sports director Michael Cauble at 2:30 p.m.
ä Listen to a podcast of Advocate sportswriter Les East by 2 p.m.
ä Chat with Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais at noon.
ä Visit the Tiger Tracks blog to get the breakdown on Washington in our weekly “Pick Six” feature.
ä Get pregame blog updates from Advocate sportswriter Les East.
ä Join an in-game chat with Advocate sportswriter Scott Hotard and Advocate online sports editor Pierce Huff.
Advocate sportswriter Les East
and The Associated Press
contributed to this report.