Provo • For a little more than a quarter of football Saturday, it appeared that the No. 25 ranking and historic upset over Wisconsin last week had gone to the BYU Cougars’ heads.

But after an excruciatingly slow start that would have cost them dearly against a more talented opponent, the Cougars roared back to life and pounded McNeese 30-3 in front of an announced crowd of 53,223 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in their first game as a nationally ranked team since 2015.

“Even though it wasn’t pretty, we are not going to complain with the win,” said BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum.

Fans were getting a bit grumpy, however, as BYU came out flat against the Cowboys of the Football Championship Subdivision. They spotted the team picked to win the Southland Conference a field goal, and nearly fell behind even farther, before scoring 30 unanswered points.

Of all things, it was a blocked field goal by BYU’s 6-foot-9 lineman Corbin Kaufusi that turned the tide.

“It was hard to match the intensity and emotion of last week’s game,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. “Now we gotta get ready for the next one [at No. 10 Washington]. That’s going to be a tough one.”

The Cougars 3-1 for the first time since they started 4-0 in 2014, will have to play a lot better if they hope to stay with the Pac-12’s Huskies, but Sitake was generally pleased with the performance considering defensive starters Zayne Anderson, Butch Pau’u and Dayan Ghanwoloku and fullback Brayden El-Bakri didn’t play due to injury.

“Obviously, there are some things we can fix to get better, but I think I will say that after every game,” Sitake said.

Most notably, the Cougars have to fix their offense after it had seemingly taken a step forward in last week’s 24-21 upset of the No. 6 Badgers. Mangum was just 15 of 25 for 118 yards and a touchdown, and BYU posted just 291 yards — 70 of that coming after the senior had given way to freshman Zach Wilson with 11 minutes remaining.

The Cougars were especially ineffective in scoring territory, and had to settle for three field goals by freshman Skyler Southam, including a 47-yarder that was the school’s longest since Mitch Payne made a 48-yarder against UNLV in 2010.

“It is a lot of things [to fix],” Mangum said. “There is a lot that goes into it. … It is something we definitely have to work on, something we can definitely improve. And so we are willing to put in that work. We want to be better.”

Mangum’s best throw was a 7-yarder to Talon Shumway for a touchdown on third-and-goal that gave BYU a 14-3 lead.

“We dialed it up for Talon,” Mangum said. “We felt like we had a good matchup in the right part of the field to attack that area of the field, and that’s something that we have been working on. More than anything, I put it up and let him make a play on it.”

BYU ran just 12 plays, for 25 yards, in the first quarter, then turned it around after Troy Warner scooped up the blocked field goal and carried the ball 22 yards into McNeese territory. That kicked off a 24-point second quarter, and the Cougars could breathe easy after it appeared McNeese was going to be a four-quarter challenge.

“After giving up the three points I feel like we controlled the game,” Sitake said. “We will be ready for the next one, and we have to improve on this. .. We did what we were supposed to do, so we need to celebrate the win and then move on.”

After an ailing Squally Canada (ankle) fumbled on his first carry and dropped a touchdown pass in the third quarter, freshman Lopini Katoa got the bulk of the carries and delivered 64 yards and two touchdowns on 10 attempts.

The Cougars caught a huge break when Michael Shelton’s fumbled punt was negated by a McNeese State holding penalty. Shelton bobbled the next punt, too, but returned it 21 yards to set up Katoa’s 14-yard touchdown run, the second TD of his career.

“It felt good,” Katoa said. “The offensive line opened up some huge lanes to make it possible.”

Defensively, the Cougars settled in after Kaufusi’s big block. Seldom-used defensive back Tanner Jacobson came up with a big interception and 19-yard return and the Cougars forced three more turnovers. Rhett Sandlin’s first career interception set up one of the two third-quarter field goals.

“We were prepared very well for this game,” Jacobson said. “The biggest part of it was preparation.”

Now if they can only get the beginning right.