BATON ROUGE -- No. 1 LSU took the better part of a half to put its epic victory over No. 2 Alabama in the rear-view mirror. After four second-half touchdowns, the Tigers improved to 10-0 for the first time since 1958 with a 42-9 victory over Western Kentucky.
Saturday's Homecoming crowd was announced as 92,917 for the first "Purple Game," where LSU's Les Miles won his 100th career game as a head coach. Seventy-two of those victories have come in six-plus seasons in Baton Rouge against 18 losses.
LSU (10-0, 6-0 SEC) next travels to Oxford, Miss., to face the Ole Miss Rebels (2-8, 1-6 SEC) on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Western Kentucky (5-5, 5-1 Sun Belt), which saw its five-game winning streak snapped, gained 140 yards in the first half to keep within a touchdown of the Tigers at halftime. The Hilltoppers managed only 86 in the second half.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson started for the first time in 2011 and finished 8-of-14 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown. He added 20 net yards rushing, though one of his two sacks resulted in a safety for intentional grounding. Jarrett Lee entered for the Tigers final two drives of the game and finished 2-of-4 passing for 15 yards including a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kadron Boone.
Running back Alfred Blue led the Tigers' ground attack with 119 yards on nine carries, scoring on touchdown runs of 45 and 4 yards. Michael Ford added 62 yards on 11 carries, while Spencer Ware had 39 yards on six attempts. Kenny Hilliard made the most of his opportunities, as the freshman scored two 1-yard touchdowns on four carries.
LSU outgained Western Kentucky 474-226 despite nearly an 11-minute deficit in time of possession. The Tigers were 8-of-11 on third down.
Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes was 11-of-24 passing for 97 yards. Running back Bobby Rainey had 85 net yards rushing on 28 carries, while tight end Jack Doyle had five catches for 44 yards.
The Hilltoppers won the coin toss and elected to defer the decision until the second half. LSU received the opening kickoff and, with Jefferson under center, marched into WKU territory with a 21-yard run by Ware. However, a sack of Jefferson on first down and a personal foul after the play foiled LSU's first drive.
Brad Wing's punt was downed at the Western Kentucky 6 by gunner Tyrann Mathieu. The Hilltoppers gained a pair of first downs when Doyle caught passes of 12 and 4-yards, but a third-and-6 pass by Jakes fell incomplete and led the WKU's first punt.
Beckham Jr. returned the punt 12 yards to the LSU 41, where Jefferson uncoiled a long pass toward Randle along the left sideline. The junior receiver caught the ball in stride at the 10, regained his balance after an ankle tackle and completed a 59-yard touchdown catch.
After the one-play drive, LSU took a 7-0 lead with 6:18 left in the opening quarter.
A 32-yard kickoff return by Derrius Brooks put WKU in good field position to start the most impressive drive of the half by the Hilltoppers. Jakes led his team to the LSU 2 with a 14-yard pass to Doyle. A 2-yard touchdown run by Simpson tied the game at 7-7 with 1:26 left in the quarter.
LSU, which entered the game second in the nation with a plus-15 turnover ratio, made its only major mistake of the contest when Beckham Jr. fumbled after a 27-yard kickoff return. Vince Williams recovered for Western Kentucky at the LSU 44.
The error didn't cost the Tigers, as the its defense stiffened and forced a punt.
Early in the second quarter, Jefferson connected with Beckham Jr. for 13 yards to the 24 but consecutive incomplete passes and a short punt by Wing gave WKU possession at its 38.
The Hilltoppers converted a fourth-and-1 at the LSU 40, but a sack by LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery stopped the drive and forced a 49-yard field goal attempt. Casey Tinius missed the try short and right, and LSU took over at its 32.
On third-and-5, Jefferson found Ware out of the backfield for a 6-yard gain and a first down at the LSU 43. Jefferson tacked on a 29-yard catch and run to Beckham Jr. and a 24-yard pass to tight end Chase Clement to setup first-and-goal at the 2. On third down, Hilliard poked the ball over the goal line for his first touchdown of the game.
LSU led 14-7 with 3:32 left in the half. The Tigers took that lead into the lockerroom after Jefferson's Hail Mary pass to Randle was tipped away to end the half.
Western Kentucky gained a first down on its first drive of the second half, but was forced to punt from its 34.
Mathieu's 29-yard return to the WKU 46 setup a short field for the Tigers, as Blue had consecutive runs of 15 and 13 yards to the 14. A 9-yard pass from Jefferson to Randle was reviewed and ruled to be down just short of the endzone. On the next play, Hilliard bowled across the line for his second touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 8:58 left in the third quarter.
A 73-yard kickoff return by Antonio Andrews gave Western Kentucky a perfect opportunity to come away with points. However, they gained them in a strange way. The LSU defense put up a great goal-line stance in the south endzone to give the Tigers possession at its 1-yard line. On third-and-7 from the 4, Jefferson was unable to unload a pass to a covered Randle and was sacked for a safety.
Western Kentucky cut the LSU advantage to 21-9 with 5:22 left in the quarter.
Faced with third-and-7 on the ensuing drive, Jakes was chased out of the pocket and his pass along the right sideline was tipped by Mathieu and intercepted by linebacker Tahj Jones at the WKU 42.
Two plays later, Ford bolted up the middle of the field for a 45-yard touchdown. With 2:53 remaining in the third quarter, LSU led 28-9.
Barkevious Mingo's sack of Jakes on third-and-3 led to another Hilltoppers punt, which Mathieu returned 10 yards to the LSU 28.
Blue opened the next drive with a 20-yard run along the left sideline, and the Tigers got 15 more after a face mask penalty. Jefferson then scrambled out of trouble at the WKU 37 and found wide receiver Jarvis Landry for 20 yards to the 17. Blue ran three-straight times for 17 yards and completed the drive with a 4-yard touchdown. With 13:52 to play, LSU led 35-9.
After a quick three-and-out by Western Kentucky, Lee entered to lead the Tigers on a 14-play, 83-yard scoring drive that took 6:15. Ford ran four times for 41 yards to midfield where Lee escaped from the pocket for a 15-yard run of his own. Lee's 10-yard pass to tight end Travis Dickson setup first down at the 11. On third-and-4 from the 5, Lee connected on a slant route to Boone for the Tigers' final touchdown.