BATON ROUGE, La. -- West Virginia gave itself chances Saturday night in Death Valley. It just gave LSU too many.
The 22nd-ranked Mountaineers committed two turnovers that preceded 10 points for the Tigers and allowed a punt return touchdown for the first time in four years to contribute to an ultimately insurmountable deficit. The 15th-ranked Tigers followed a punt return touchdown from Patrick Peterson and an opportune offense to a 20-14 victory before 92,575 at Tiger Stadium.
The Mountaineers have only played before a larger crowd once. They lost at Penn State, 51-6, with 96,445 witnesses in 1991.
"I do not like missing two field goals. I do not like giving up a punt return. I do not like us not handling some pressure and I do not like not being able to capitalize and giving them turnovers for touchdowns," said Bill Stewart, who fell to 7-8 in road games in two-plus years as head coach."
WVU sunk the Big East to 1-10 against teams from BCS conferences -- and 0-4 this week. A 22-year streak without a win against a ranked team on the road in non-conference play continued. WVU last pulled that off against Pitt in 1988.
The Tigers, meanwhile, extended their non-conference regular-season winning streak to 31 games, the best in the nation. LSU has also won 29 straight regular-season non-conference home games and is 26-1 in Saturday night home games in the five-plus years with Coach Les Miles.
WVU quarterback Geno Smith entered the game completing 70.3-percent of his passes, the 10th-best mark in the country, but was 14-for-29 for 119 yards. He threw two touchdowns and an interception. Noel Devine carried 14 times for 39 yards and was slowed early by a bruised toe after he was tackled out of bounds on the second series. The offense managed 178 total yards -the worst output since 2003 -- and was 2-for-13 on third down.
"I felt pretty confident with our defense on the field," Miles said. "I felt like the game was really in control."
LSU won despite two turnovers and 11 penalties for 105 yards. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson was jeered on some occasions and cheered for throwing a ball out of bounds before being replaced for a series late in the game. The Tigers were 3-for-13 on third down.
"It sucks to have that feeling you were the better team and you couldn't come away with the 'W,'" said WVU linebacker J.T. Thomas.
LSU's Stevan Ridley carried 20 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. He ran seven times for 42 yards and three first downs in the fourth quarter.
"Great player," said WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. "Strong kid, great player. My hat's off to him. I don't know it was so much our kids as it was playing a great player."
The Mountaineers (3-1) allowed 17 points in 5:48 that spanned the opening two quarters, but actually outgained LSU (4-0) 119-80 in the first half and had a 35-21 edge in plays.
A 5-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith to Stedman Bailey with 48 seconds remaining in the first half made it 17-7. An interception by Eain Smith on LSU's first drive of the second half preceded a touchdown pass from Smith to Jock Sanders.
A lot of the damage was already done.