BATON ROUGE, La. -- As it turns out, the crowd wasn't that much of a factor. Neither was LSU's offense or, to a certain extent, the Tigers' defense. No, West Virginia handled all of those things pretty much as well as could have been expected.
What the Mountaineers didn't count on Saturday night was fighting themselves. And in the end, that was what beat West Virginia at Tiger Stadium -- West Virginia.
The No. 22 Mountaineers gave up 10 first-half points entirely because of turnovers, surrendered a 60-yard punt return to Patrick Peterson and dug themselves a 17-0 hole from which they could not escape.
They fought back and had several chances to take the lead, but in the end could not duplicate the same magic that tied and eventually won a game at Marshall. Eventually, WVU lost 20-14 against the No. 15 Tigers in front of 92,575 at Tiger Stadium.
The loss dropped the Mountaineers to 3-1 and is likely to push them out of the Top 25 for the first time this season. That would leave the Big East with no ranked teams.
In retrospect, Bill Stewart liked a lot about West Virginia's performance, and with good reason. LSU gained just 230 total yards against the Mountaineers and the Tigers turned the ball over twice themselves. Through 21/2 quarters, LSU had a paltry four first downs.
But then there were those mistakes, which were killers.
"That was a tough one to lose and it's going to stick with me a long time. It's going to stick with our staff and, more importantly, it's going to stick with our players,'' Stewart said. "I do compliment LSU, but I do not like two missed field goals. I do not like giving up a punt return. I do not like us not being able to handle pressure.''
But most of all, of course, there were those turnovers. Oh, and Noel Devine being out of the game with a toe injury after being hit late out of bounds didn't help, either.
With Devine on the bench, Ryan Clarke fumbled and gave LSU the ball at the WVU 7 late in the first quarter. A series later, Geno Smith was picked off by LSU's Tyrann Mathieu at the Mountaineer 41.
In neither instance did LSU gain even enough yards for a first down, but seven- and nine-yard "drives'' with those turnovers were enough for a 10-0 lead. Then Peterson returned the punt for a touchdown to make it 17-0.
Afterward, it was hard for defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel to take much solace in the fact that his defense really gave up just three points all night.
"You're always disappointed when you lose. It's about winning,'' Casteel said. "I thought the kids played hard all night. But we made some mistakes against a good football team in a tough environment. It's a tough lesson. You've got to make plays and you've got to be on top of your game for four quarters. We made a couple of mistakes and they made us pay.''