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With sights on No. 1 spot, Flynn, LSU pound La. Tech

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Happy Birthday, Les Miles. Your LSU Tigers are headed to the SEC championship game and just might be No. 1 again.

Matt Flynn passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night to lead No. 2 LSU to a comfortable 58-10 triumph over Louisiana Tech that came only hours after Illinois upset top-ranked Ohio State.

LSU's student section serenaded the coach with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" as he walked off the field. Miles, now 54, acknowledged the fans by triumphantly thrusting his fists in the air, even if he didn't want to think about getting older.

"I was pretty excited about that," Miles said. "Once you get to be 50, you kind of don't want to remember the next birthdays."

It was a great day for LSU before the Tigers even took the field. On top of the Ohio State loss, LSU clinched the SEC West and a spot in the league title game when Auburn and Alabama both lost earlier Saturday.

Then, with No. 1 in the Tigers' sights, the victory came easy for a change.

LSU's previous three victories -- over Florida, Auburn and Alabama -- were marked by late-game heroics that narrowly preserved the Tigers' national championship hopes.

They needed all of those comebacks, given their blown lead at Kentucky, which led to an overtime loss and an end to their brief stint at No. 1.

"The good news is we've been highly ranked most of the year, and wherever we've been ranked, it certainly has been in striking distance of where we need to be at the end of the year," Miles said. "It puts us close enough to play in the [national title] game if we continue to take care of business."

LSU stood to gain from putting this weekend's contest out of reach early and got little resistance.

In 17 previous meetings between LSU and Louisiana Tech spanning more than a century, the Bulldogs (4-6) had beaten LSU only once, and that was back in 1904. LSU (9-1) was favored to win this one by about five touchdowns, a margin they held midway through the third quarter.

"I'll be shocked if they're not the national champions at end of the year," Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley said. "They do a lot of great coaching. They've got a lot of great football players and they put it to us tonight."

The Tigers were well aware of the Ohio State score before they took the field.

"When we heard about it, it was great, but our season is not finished," cornerback Jonathan Zenon said. "We've got to finish out to be No. 1."

Flynn's scoring strikes included a career-long 71-yarder to Terrance Tolliver, which also was a career long reception for the freshman receiver.

That was LSU's longest play from scrimmage this season until Tech's secondary over-pursued on a trap play and Jacob Hester broke loose for a career-best 87-yard touchdown run.

"Their defense is a kind of risk-reward thing. It's a lot of all-out blitzes and a lot of man-to-man," Flynn said of Louisiana Tech. "We were able to make some plays in the passing game. We kind of exploited them a little bit."

Flynn also scored on a 1-yard sneak, threw a 37-yard scoring pass to Brandon LaFell and lofted a 14-yard TD to tight end Richard Dickson. LSU rolled up 595 total yards and Colt David hit all three of his field goal tries.

The Bulldogs' defense gave Flynn minor trouble in the first half with two interceptions, the first setting up Zac Champion's 37-yard TD pass to Brian Jackson, which briefly pulled Tech as close as 10-7 early in the second quarter.

For the most part, the homecoming contest was a lopsided and anticlimactic ending to long day of tailgating under warm, sunny skies for purple and gold-clad LSU fans.

Two of the loudest cheers of the night had nothing to do with what was going on in Tiger Stadium: The first was sparked by the announcement that former LSU coach Nick Saban and Alabama had lost again, this time to Mississippi State; even louder was the response to the Ohio State result.

With the Buckeyes stumbling, LSU now needs three more victories to virtually assure itself a berth in the BCS title game in New Orleans, where the Tigers won their last BCS national championship during the 2003 season.

LSU travels to Ole Miss next Saturday, hosts Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving and meets the winner of the SEC East (probably Tennessee or Georgia) for the conference championship in Atlanta on Dec. 1.

"It's like being No. 1 before No. 1 counts," Miles said. "We're the champions of the West, but that's just where we're at today and we'll certainly have the opportunity to play for more."