The LSU defense wraps up Idaho running back Ryan Bass during the Tigers' 63-14 win Saturday night in Baton Rouge. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, September 15, 2012 11:25 PM
BATON ROUGE (AP) — 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.
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.
Martin's first interception was a diving catch at the Idaho 30, setting up a six-play scoring drive that consisted 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.
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.
The two defensive scores matched Idaho's point total for the night, and LSU's offense wasn't bad, either, despite several sloppy first-half drives that had the crowd groaning a bit.
Zach Mettenberger eclipsed 200 yards passing for the first time, completing 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, giving him six TDs this season.
Freshman running back Jeremy Hill made his LSU debut in the fourth quarter and scored his first touchdown on a 4-yard run a few plays later, then added LSU's final score on an 8-yard run.
Blackman was 23 of 36 for 174 yards and two TDs passes. Gary Walker had a 94-yard interception return for Idaho (0-3), setting up the Vandals' first touchdown.
Earlier in the week, LSU coach Les 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 go ahead by three TDs 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, briefly cutting the Tigers' lead to one touchdown.
Martin's second interception made it 21-7, but Idaho refused to fold, driving 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 then hit Shepard for 23 yards to the Idaho 7, and then found Landry to make it 28-14 just before halftime.