BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU did little to scare former coach Nick Saban and Alabama in a sluggish performance against in-state rival Tulane.
With the Tigers coming off a disheartening loss to Georgia, coach Les Miles was looking for four quarters of intensity against the Green Wave. He settled for a few minutes of dominance as No. 19 LSU won 35-10 on Saturday night.
Charles Scott rushed for 114 yards and scored two touchdowns in 27 seconds late in the second quarter to help LSU (6-2) pull away.
Scott had 84 of his yards, including a 56-yard burst, to highlight an eight-play drive that put LSU ahead 7-0 on its opening possession. But the Tigers, who will play host to the undefeated Crimson Tide next Saturday in one of the more anticipated home games in LSU history, went flat until the final two minutes of the half.
Brandon LaFell's 14-yard scoring catch put LSU ahead 14-3 with 2:14 left. Then defensive end Rahim Alem stripped quarterback Joe Kemp on Tulane's next series, and LSU's Chris Hawkins returned the fumble 23 yards for a touchdown at the 1:47 mark.
Saban led LSU to the BCS national championship in 2003, and he will return to Tiger Stadium as Alabama coach for the first time with another team poised to make a run at the title.
"We look forward to playing them," Miles said. "We might welcome the No. 1 team in the country here next week."
That was a distinct possibility after No. 1 Texas' last-second 39-33 loss to seventh-ranked Texas Tech.
LSU won its 17th in a row against Tulane (2-6), which has lost 37 consecutive games to ranked teams dating back to 1982, the last time it beat LSU.
The Tigers tacked on a 3-yard touchdown run by Keiland Williams early in the third quarter, but by then almost everyone in the stadium was looking ahead to next Saturday.
"I felt like we had our moments and spurts offensively, but again we were just not consistent," said running back Richard Murphy, who had 54 yards on 12 carries. "I know we have to come in and play a better game next week."
Tulane played Alabama tough in September, losing 20-6 while allowing only one defensive touchdown, but the Green Wave's season has been wrecked by injuries.
Tulane played without leading rusher Andre Anderson, who had 864 yards before separating his shoulder last week against Rice, and leading receiver Jeremy Williams, who has missed the last three games with a hand injury.
LSU held Tulane to 72 rushing yards on 30 carries. The Green Wave used two quarterbacks, sophomore Kevin Moore and redshirt freshman Kemp. Kemp was 5-for-12 for 40 yards, and Moore was 6-for-11 for 44 yards.
Kemp led a nine-play, 45-yard drive that ended in a 48-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 7-3 in the second quarter. The Green Wave moved to the LSU 40 the next time it had the ball, but the Tigers stuffed Moore on consecutive sneaks on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1.
"We played as hard as we could have played," Tulane coach Bob Toledo said. "We just made too many mistakes."
Tulane scored its only touchdown on a 43-yard interception return by Travis Burks in the fourth quarter. It was the fifth time this season an opponent has scored on an interception of LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee, including two by Georgia last Saturday.
It was another spotty performance by Lee, who finished 8-for-20 for 99 yards.
This pick-6 was not nearly as costly, but it produced a few boos and it may not bode well for the Tigers' matchup with Alabama.
"The pass at the end that got intercepted is something I still need to work on, but overall I thought we played pretty well," Lee said. "Whenever you win, you have to feel good about it."
The remaining fans in a mostly empty stadium cheered loudly when freshman Jordan Jefferson replaced Lee with 4:08 left in the game. Jefferson, playing because Andrew Hatch was unavailable with a leg injury, rewarded them by leading a touchdown drive.
"He's going to play," Miles said of Jefferson. "We wanted to give him a number of snaps and I'd like to have thrown the ball a little more at the end. We didn't want to put him in early when the game was still in question."
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