BATON ROUGE, Louisiana - North Texas came to Death Valley looking for an upset of the top-ranked team in the nation, but LSU was having none of it Saturday night.
LSU was looking for the kind of massacre oddsmakers expected, but North Texas was having none of that.
What each had to settle for was a 41-14 LSU victory in both team's season opener. LSU ended any Mean Green hopes of a win by exploding for a 24-0 lead in the first half, but North Texas shook off the effects of the haymaker to score twice while bringing the Tiger onslaught under control.
"We lost to a very good team tonight, they are ranked No. 1 for a good reason," said head coach Dan McCarney. "I saw some of our guys giving great effort but I also saw some things that we need to get fixed. We can still accomplish all of our goals this season but we need to get back to work and get ready for Texas Southern."
Two Derek Thompson to Brelan Chancellor touchdown passes gave North Texas 14 points - more than the Mean Green had scored in four previous meetings with LSU. LSU's 41 points matched the fewest the Tigers have scored against North Texas, and the 27-point margin was the closest in the series.
North Texas did not allow a sack to the much-touted LSU pass rush, and Chancellor had 114 yards receiving.
LSU was in control throughout the first half, scoring just two and a half minutes into the game and holding North Texas without a first down in the opening quarter. But the Mean Green got a timely defensive stops, highlighted by Hilbert Jackson's crushing sack of LSU's Zach Mettenberger, which temporarily knocked the Tiger quarterback out of the game.
The Tigers led 14-0 at the end of the first period and were up 24-0 and driving for another score when the North Texas defense stopped the Tigers, forcing a field goal attempt that drifted wide left. Buoyed the the stop, the Mean Green offense finally found a hole in the Tiger defense when Chancellor took a pass from Thompson across the middle and went 80 yards for a touchdown.
It was just the second time North Texas has scored a touchdown in five games against LSU.
LSU responded quickly, driving deep into Mean Green territory, but were stopped when Zac Whitfield made a diving interception at the North Texas one-yard line, sending the Mean Green to halftime down 24-7.
The North Texas defense held LSU to just a field goal in the third quarter, but the Mean Green offense could not cut into the Tiger lead, managing just one first down in the period.
North Texas got its second Chancellor touchdown on a 15-yard pass from Thompson in the fourth quarter.
But the grinding LSU running game kept the Tigers in control in the second half, as the Tigers amassed 316 yards on the ground.
North Texas will play its home opener next Saturday at Apogee Stadium against Texas Southern. Game time is 6 p.m.