BATON ROUGE, La. -- Benched for the season opener for his role in an offseason bar fight, Jeremy Hill made his first start of the season and exploded for 117 yards and touchdown runs of 58 and 12 yards to power penalty-plagued No. 8 LSU to a 45-13 victory over Kent State on Saturday night at Tiger Stadium.
Hill, the Tigers' leading rusher in 2012, played only in the first half as LSU showcased its deep stable of running backs, but he made every carry count, averaging 10.6 yards on 11 carries.
LSU finished with 307 yards rushing, its best output of the season. Terrence Magee added 108 yards on just nine carries.
"It's been a humbling experience," said Hill, who was held out by coach Les Miles and did not play in LSU's season-opening victory over TCU and then was benched until the second half of last week's 56-17 rout of the University of Alabama-Birmingham. "I just stayed focused and humble. All I could do was just go to class every day and stay in shape, and if my number was called, come back to the team ready."
Miles said last week that Hill, when fully back in shape, probably is LSU's best back, and he decided to start him for the first time this season. But Miles said Hill still is not all the way back.
"To be honest with you, there were several cuts he missed and some landmarks we didn't enjoy," Miles said. "I think he's a guy who's back in shape. He can run -- that's not the issue. We're just making sure he sees the cuts. He hasn't carried the ball, even in practice, significantly. We're really getting him back and sharpening his skills to where they were last year."
A 37-point favorite, LSU was in control throughout, racing to a 21-0 lead with touchdowns on its first three series. But the Tigers committed 11 penalties for 86 yards to keep the game close.
"The disturbing things were the false starts (on the goal line)," Miles said. "If we don't make those false starts, we'd be a lot better."
Zach Mettenberger completed 13-of-18 passes for 264 yards and three scores. He connected with Jarvis Landry on TD passes of 21 and 31 yards in the first half and then found Odell Beckham Jr. for a 5-yard score at the start of the fourth quarter, putting LSU up 38-13.
Mettenberger said he was happy to see Hill back as a running threat.
"I think he showed that he's doing pretty well," Mettenberger said. "He picked up right where he left off. This was really his first game back and he was running. I'm excited to see what he can do in the future."
LSU outgained Kent State 571-248, but redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon played a steady game, completing 20-of-29 for 190 yards, and he also ran 2 yards for Kent State's only TD in the first half.
"I think he's continued to get better each week," Kent State coach Paul Haynes said. "Plus, our offensive line is getting better also. We'll lick our wounds on this plan ride back and get ready for Penn State tomorrow."
LSU scored four touchdowns and a field goal on its five first-half possessions before a kneel-down just before half to take a 31-10 lead.
Hill opened the scoring with a career-high 58-yard run up the gut to open the scoring. On the play, Hill got a solid lead block from right guard Trai Turner.
Hill also scored from 12 yards out to give LSU a 21-0 lead and would have had another score, but his 16-yard sweep around left end in the second quarter was nullified by a chop block on center Elliott Porter.
Miles also was upset late in the first half when freshman wide receiver Travin Dural muffed a punt at the LSU 20. Kent State converted that into a 37-yard field goal by Anthony Melchiori with 17 seconds left, cutting the LSU lead to 31-10.
NOTES: Mettenberger is 45-of-69 (65.2 percent) for 797 yards and nine TDs in his first three games. The scoring passes are the most ever for an LSU quarterback in three games. ... LSU has outscored its first three opponents 48-3 in the first quarter. LSU now has five consecutive SEC games, three on the road, in the next five weeks: Auburn, at Georgia, at Mississippi State, Florida and at Ole Miss. ... Freshman cornerback Tre'Davious White started in place of sophomore Jalen Collins, who struggled in coverage and with tackling the first two games. ... LSU has won an FBS-record 44 consecutive regular-season games against nonconference opponents, dating back to 2002. ... After piling up 93 points and 893 yards in victories over TCU and UAB, LSU torched Kent State for 45 points and 571 yards.