Terrence Magee ran for two touchdowns after halftime, Zach Mettenberger threw for 251 yards with a key late score and 12th-ranked LSU held on for a 37-27 victory over No. 20 TCU late Saturday night.
Odell Beckham's 75-yard kickoff return set up a 20-yard TD pass from Mettenberger to Jarvis Landry with 6 minutes left.
All in all, despite a crucial fumble and a three-and-out in the fourth quarter that kept the game uncomfortably close, the Tigers' first game with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron calling the plays provided a promising start to the season.
And that replenished defense after losing a team-record eight players to the NFL draft came up with some key plays.
B.J. Catalon returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and scored on a 26-yard run for TCU, the two-time BCS buster now in its second Big 12 season.
TCU started in Tigers territory after a shanked 28-yard punt after the three-and-out. But the Horned Frogs' drive was hampered when Trevone Boykin was sacked and fumbled. They recovered the ball, but had to settle for Jaden Oberkrom's 39-yard field goal to get within 30-27 with 7½ minutes left. Then came Beckham's big kickoff return.
Before that, Alfred Blue's fumble set TCU up at the 6. Waymon James' 5-yard TD run made it 30-24 with 13 minutes left.
Magee ran 52 yards for a touchdown less than 2 minutes into the second half put LSU up 23-10, three plays after an interception by Jalen Mills — one of only three full-time returning defensive starters for the Tigers. Magee added a 2-yard score later in the third quarter.
The Tigers gained 448 total yards against a TCU team known for its defense. Even after moving from the Mountain West to the Big 12 last season, the Horned Frogs led their new league in total defense.
LSU was up 13-3 when 270-pound fullback J.C. Copeland plunged in from a yard out early in the second quarter.
But Catalon returned the ensuing kickoff for a TD, with only one LSU player even getting a hand on the speedy running back. That tied for the second-longest return in TCU history, behind only a 105-yarder against Texas in 1933.
While LSU coach Les Miles had been deliberately vague to keep TCU guessing on Jeremy Hill's status following his offseason arrest for throwing a punch outside a bar, didn't play.
TCU was without reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year Devonte Fields, who was also in uniform without playing. He's serving a two-game suspension for an unspecified violation of university and team policy during the offseason.