BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Ninth-ranked LSU remained unbeaten and somehow managed to leave its fans grumbling in the process.
Stevan Ridley rushed for two touchdowns, Michael Ford added the first two scoring runs of his career, and the Tigers eventually wore down feisty McNeese State 32-10 on Saturday night.
They'll need a much better performance next week against No. 7 Auburn, and the crowd at Tiger Stadium must have realized it. The fans booed more than once, despite the Tigers (7-0) pushing their victory margin to double digits in the second half.
The Cowboys (2-4), who play in the Football Championship Subdivision, repeatedly frustrated LSU's offense and remained as close as six until late in the third quarter. LSU's Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson combined for only 103 yards passing, with Lee leading all four TD drives.
McNeese State led twice in the first half before Ridley's second TD on a tackle-breaking, 10-yard run in the second quarter put LSU up for good at 14-10.
Ridley's other score was a 2-yard plunge on fourth-and-1, which LSU needed to tie the game late in the first quarter. Ford, who finished with 86 yards rushing, scored from 6 and 36 yards, the second coming with 1:12 to go.
LSU finished with 179 yards rushing, 10 below its average coming in.
Traveling from Lake Charles, about a two-hour drive west of Baton Rouge, McNeese was making its first appearance in Tiger Stadium in what was also its first meeting with LSU.
The Cowboys did not seem intimidated, stopping LSU's opening series and then converting a fake punt on their first possession.
With quarterback Jacob Bower recovering from a concussion the previous weekend, McNeese coach Matt Viator gave redshirt freshman Cody Stroud his first career start against a top-10, unbeaten team on the road. Stroud responded by going 15 of 32 for 118 yards and a short touchdown pass to Damion Dixon that gave the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead.
Stroud also set up a field goal with a 22-yard scramble.
McNeese State didn't have to drive far for either score; both were set up by LSU turnovers.
The Cowboys sacked and stripped Jefferson on LSU's 5-yard line to set up the first TD. Later, a fluky bounce on a short McNeese punt sent the ball deflecting off of LSU's Spencer Ware as he tried to block for the return, and McNeese recovered at the LSU 41 to open a drive that ended with Josh Lewis' 23-yard field goal.
After Ridley's second TD put LSU in front, Drake Nevis' tackled running back Andre Anderson in the end zone for a safety made it 16-10. That score stood at halftime after Josh Jasper uncharacteristically missed a 32-yard field goal attempt.
McNeese State sought to keep kicks and punts away from LSU cornerback and return specialist Patrick Peterson most of the night, but Peterson did manage a 45-yard return of a high, short kickoff in the first quarter, which set up LSU's first score. Peterson also had a 34-yard punt return.
Fellow LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne had an interception.