BATON ROUGE, La. -- Although LSU was bounced from title contention in the Southeastern Conference, Ron Brooks, Lavar Edwards and Patrick Peterson kept the fifth-ranked Tigers convincingly in the hunt for a BCS bowl.
Brooks returned an interception for a touchdown, Edwards brought back a fumble for another, and Peterson's spectacular 85-yard interception return set up a TD in the fifth-ranked Tigers' 51-0 blowout of Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night.
"We are tremendously hot right now," Peterson said. "It is so fun going out there each and every snap knowing we are going to make a play. ... I just can't wait to get out there again."
The Tigers (9-1) were eliminated from contention in the SEC's Western Division with unbeaten Auburn's victory over Georgia. However, LSU still can finish its regular season 11-1 and end up in its first BCS bowl since its last national title in the 2007 season.
"We really feel like this is our year to get back," quarterback Jordan Jefferson said. "That only happens if we finish this season strong."
Coach Les Miles even suggested a remote possibility remained of sneaking back into national title contention, if LSU wins its remaining games against Mississippi and Arkansas, and if teams ahead of LSU in the BCS standings stumble.
"The SEC Western Division is very, very strong," Miles said. "Down the road if something were to happen, I think we will be considered on schedule strength alone, but I don't want to get too fired up until we get the next two games."
LSU's defense produced five turnovers in all, leading to 31 points, and the Tigers built a 44-0 lead by the third quarter.
Stevan Ridley rushed for two touchdowns, the first set up by Peterson's interception.
ULM (4-6), which plays in the Sun Belt Conference, came in averaging 387.8 yards and 24.7 points per game, but in this contest the Warhawks' defense was the only unit playing well early on, forcing punts on LSU's first two drives.
"On defense I thought we played especially hard, but it is very disappointing on offense," ULM coach Todd Berry said. "The turnovers were horrendous and embarrassing."
Brooks' first career interception and 32-yard return into the open field made it 7-0.
On its next two drives, LSU settled for Josh Jasper's field goals of 54 and 45 yards. The Tigers' offense did not get into the end zone until after Peterson made one of the more spectacular plays of the night. The star cornerback leapt high over receiver Tavarese Maye to intercept Kolton Browning's long pass at the LSU 3, kept his balance, stayed in bounds and started the other way, cutting across the entire field on a weaving return to the ULM 12.
After Jefferson converted a fourth-and-short on a keeper, Ridley powered in from a yard out to make it 20-0 early in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard's strip of Luke Russell was recovered by Lazarius Levingston on the ULM 25, leading to Jasper's third field goal. That gave the Tigers, who had only 90 yards of offense through the first two quarters, a 23-0 halftime lead.
Edwards' 29-yard fumble return for a score came after defensive tackle Michael Brockers stripped running back Centarius Donald in the third quarter, making it 37-0.
"I saw the ball on the ground and after I picked it up I saw that I had a little running room," Edwards said. "I was definitely thinking end zone and I was going to do whatever I needed to get there."
LSU's offense didn't have to do much and finished with 251 yards for the game, only 61 more than ULM.
LSU kept the ball on the ground most of the game, gaining 156 yards on 39 carries with four rushing TDs in all. Jefferson and Jarrett Lee combined for eight completions for 95 yards, while ULM had only 67 yards through the air.
Browning was 8 of 17 for 61 yards and two interceptions. LSU's third interception came when Craig Loston stepped in front of Cody Wells' pass in the fourth quarter, setting up Michael Ford's 17-yard scoring run.
Spencer Ware had LSU's other TD on a 5-yard run in the third quarter.