2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 5 - Kentucky at LSU
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Oct. 1 at LSU 35 … Kentucky 7
CFN Analysis: LSU treated this game like it was playing Western Kentucky. There was plenty of experimenting and lots of new parts thrown in the mix like Alfred Blue, who ran for 72 yards and a score on 16 carries, and Terrence Magee, who ran 12 times for 38 yards and a score. The ground game didn't exactly dominate, and Jarrett Lee only completed 8-of-21 passes for 169 yards and a score, but the defense never let this get interesting allowing just 155 yards of total offense and with Tyrann Mathieu coming up with yet another big play for a score. This was a go-through-the-motions win over a bad team, and it was the perfect mental break before hosting Florida.
It's hard to judge how good an offense is when it goes against LSU, but Kentucky's attack was truly awful. Morgan Newton just can't find his passing touch, completing just 6-of-20 throws for 57 yards and a score, but his receivers aren't doing anything to help the cause. There's no running game, no playmakers, and little to take away from a rough day in Death Valley. The defense wasn't awful, keeping the Tiger ground game in check, but it couldn't come up with any big stops or takeaways to turn the game around. With a trip to South Carolina up next, the offense has to find points from somewhere, and it has to start with more coming from the passing game.
(AP) BATON ROUGE, La. -- Les Miles predicted that Jordan Jefferson's return would not be disruptive and, if anything, would give LSU more ways to move the ball.
So far, so good.
Jefferson scored on his first play back from suspension, cornerback Tyrann Mathieu scored after setting an LSU record for career forced fumbles, and the No. 1 Tigers methodically defeated Kentucky 35-7 on Saturday.
Jefferson was reinstated this week after a grand jury reduced charges the quarterback faces in connection with a bar fight to a misdemeanor. Jarrett Lee remained the starter.
LSU coach Les Miles inserted Jefferson on an early fourth-and-goal, and he dove over the goal line from the 1 to give the Tigers (5-0, 2-0 SEC) a 7-0 lead. Lee later hit Odell Beckham Jr. for a 51-yard score, their second TD connection of more than 50 yards in two games.
Kentucky (2-3, 0-2) did not threaten to score until LSU led 35-0.
Wildcats starter Morgan Newton missed on his first nine throws and completed only 2 of 11 passes in the first half, when he was sacked three times. Kentucky coach Joker Phillips gave freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith a chance in the second half, but Smith fared even worse, completing only one of five attempts and turning the ball over when he was flattened by a swarm of Tigers.
Mathieu got there first and swatted the ball loose just as several LSU defenders arrived and steamrolled Smith, who lay face-down while Mathieu scooped up the ball and returned it 23 yards to give LSU a 28-0 lead.
That was the third forced fumble this season for Mathieu, a true sophomore, and the second he had returned for a score. The player LSU fans call "honey badger," after the popular YouTube clip featuring the small but ferocious animal, later forced another fumble, the ninth of his career, two more than the previous school mark.
LSU's defense registered five sacks, with defensive end Sam Montgomery in on two of them.
Although LSU dominated, the Tigers' offense sputtered intermittently. Lee completed 8 of 21 passes for 169 yards and one TD.
Beckham, who scored on a 52-yard reception against West Virginia last week, was Lee's top target against the Wildcats, catching three passes for 72 yards.
LSU gained 179 yards on the ground, led by sophomore Alfred Blue's 72 yards. Blue scored once on a 1-yard run that made it 21-0 in the third quarter, capping a drive sustained by Russell Shepard's acrobatic third-down catch along the sideline.
Later, freshman Terrence Magee scored his first career touchdown, also on a 1-yard run.
Kentucky did not score until Newton hit Matt Roark with a 4-yard pass with 6:09 left to play.
The Tigers struggled to move the ball for much of the first half, when leading running back Spencer Ware came out of the game after only five carries. He did not appear seriously hurt as trainers stretched his left leg, but he did not return.
Running back Michael Ford, who leads the team in touchdowns, also saw only limited action as Miles decided to go more to Blue and Magee.
LSU opened the scoring on its second drive, when Rueben Randle outleaped double coverage to grab 37-yard pass from Lee to the Kentucky 5, setting up the score by Jefferson, who heard a few boos when he first ran onto the field. Those boos were soon drowned out by cheers when Jefferson scored, and he was not booed again. Jefferson did not attempt a pass. He rushed four times for 29 yards.
The Tigers extended their lead to 14-0 when Lee hit Beckham on a crossing route on third-and-10. Beckham, a true freshman, spun up field after the catch, then broke several tackles as he cut all the way back across the field for a stunning score.
Kentucky (2-2) at LSU (4-0) Oct. 1, 12:21, ESPN3
Here's The Deal … Kentucky pulled off a thrilling shocker over LSU in 2007 to be one of the two teams to beat the eventual national champion. That's been one of the only positives for the Wildcats in the series lately, highlighted by the Bluegrass Miracle in 2002, but it wasn't all that long ago when UK won its share of games, partly because LSU in the 1990s wasn't the LSU it is now.
If Kentucky can stay within three touchdowns of the Tigers this year, it'll be another sort of miracle.
The Wildcats struggled to get past bad Western Kentucky and Central Michigan teams, lost to a bad Louisville squad, and then last week, wasn't even close in a 48-10 home loss to Florida. The offense isn't working, the defense isn't stopping anyone on the ground, and there are way too many mistakes and big errors by a relatively young team trying to jell as soon as possible.
LSU doesn't have any of those issues. The offense is beating everyone up, the defense is shutting everyone down, and the résumé is terrific beating Oregon, Mississippi State, and West Virginia all away from home. Now the nation's No. 1 team, at least according to some polls, gets to take a breather after before dealing with Florida, at Tennessee, Auburn, and at Alabama over the next four make-or-break showdowns.
Will the Tigers be overconfident or will they come out and take care of business? Does Kentucky have anything in the bag to come up with the shocker? If LSU really is the best team in America, this is where it flexes a little more muscle and shows it, but UK has just enough athletes to potentially make it interesting.
Why Kentucky Might Win: LSU might be blasting away with the running game and the offensive line might be playing well, but the overall yards aren't there. For all the good things the Tigers are doing, they're only averaging 350 yards per game, and while the offense is moving the chains on efficient passing and good plays on third downs, this isn't exactly an offensive juggernaut.
In the easier-said-than-done category, if Kentucky can somehow, in some way, get any sort of a lead early and can force LSU to start throwing to try to come back, this could be a bit of a fight. The Wildcat secondary has been solid so far and kept Florida's passing game from blowing up last week, and LSU doesn't throw well unless the running game is rolling. LSU is also thriving on big plays on special teams and defense, and if UK can keep the mistakes and the turnovers to a minimum, there's a chance this might not be a blowout.
Why LSU Might Win: Kentucky doesn't have the firepower to put up the points early to force the Tigers to press. The passing game didn't work against Western Kentucky, cranked out just 114 yards against Louisville, and was held to 165 yards against Florida. Worst of all in a game like this, the offense has a problem hanging on to the ball with six interceptions thrown and four lost fumbles, tying for 103rd in the nation in turnovers lost. UK has to win the turnover battle to win the game, but LSU has only given it away three times so far.
The LSU lines are playing at too high a level for Kentucky to have any sort of a chance to get into the backfield or provide any sort of a push for the ground game. UK as already allowed 16 sacks on the year and now has to deal with the NFL talent on the Tiger defensive front, and the Wildcat defensive front is getting pushed around too easily against the run. LSU doesn't have to take any chances. All it has to do is blast away up front.
What To Watch Out For: Kentucky can't afford to lose any playmakers on either side of the ball to have any chance of surviving in the SEC, and it might have to go into Baton Rouge with a banged up top runner, Josh Clemons, who's questionable at best with a bad hamstring. The UK backfield is already struggling with injuries and it'll have to go through a rotation of players to try to generate some sort of production against the seemingly impenetrable LSU defensive front seven. Abandoning the run isn't an option considering the UK passing game isn't good enough to do much against the Tiger secondary.
Yes, West Virginia's Geno Smith bombed away for 463 yards last week, but LSU was in control of the game because of big plays on special teams to go along with a good day from the ground game. Morris Claiborne will start for some NFL team next year at one corner spot, but it's do-it-all defensive back Tyrann Mathieu who's making a bid for big honors. Mathieu came up with six tackles and a pick, and leads the team with 30 tackles to go along with two key forced fumbles and a key play for a score against Oregon. He's on the short list for the Thorpe Award, and now he'll be in the spotlight even more now that the name recognition is getting stronger.
LSU's passing game hasn't been the total disaster it
was expected to be, and now there should be an
interesting choice for the starting job. Jarrett Lee
has been fine, but Jordan Jefferson is back in the
mix after charges against him for his role in a bar
fight were lessened. Les Miles and the coaching
staff won't mess with what's working, but if and
when Jefferson is ready, he'll get a shot at getting
his starting job back.
What Will Happen: LSU won't be razor sharp, and it'll sputter for a little while as it exhales a bit, but it'll pick up the pace in the second half by blasting away with the ground game. The defense won't give up much of anything to the middling Kentucky offense that has no pop whatsoever.
CFN Prediction: LSU 38 ... Kentucky 6
Click For Latest Line From ATS:
LSU -29.5 O/U: 45.5
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