2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 11 - WKU at LSU
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Nov. 12 at LSU 42 … Western Kentucky 9
CFN Analysis: It was 7-7 in the first quarter and 14-7 halfway through the third quarter. This was the textbook definition of going through the motions. When LSU turned up the defensive pressure, WKU couldn’t breathe. … Jarrett Lee wasn’t given much of a chance to get past the Bama performance. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 15 yards with a five-yard, garbage time touchdown pass. This is Jordan Jefferson’s offense now. … Jefferson was solid, completing 8-of-14 passes for 168 yards and a 59-yard touchdown pass to Rueben Randle. … The offensive line blasted WKU off the ball with Anthony Blue running for 119 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries, and the team averaged 7.3 yards per pop. … It was the week off the team needed after the pressure of the Alabama game. Playing Ole Miss will be even easier, but next week Jefferson has to be even stronger before dealing with Arkansas. This game, though, showed that the fire isn’t there for a full sixty minutes. It doesn’t have to be.
WKU might have been blown out, but it played with the best team in the nation toe-to-toe for almost three quarters. The defense held firm and only gave up one huge play early on, and then the dam broke. … The LSU defense was too fast for Alabama; Kawaun Jakes didn’t stand a chance. He completed 11-of-24 passes for 97 yards and a pick, but he was under pressure in too many key moments. … Bobby Rainey ran for 85 yards on 28 carries. He kept getting fed the ball, but he was swarmed over every time he was able to take a step forward. … Now it’s time to finish up strong. The four-game winning streak is expectedly gone, but beating North Texas and Troy is a must, and possible to close out with seven wins and a possible part of a Sun Belt title. The defense proved against LSU it’s good enough to make it happen.
(AP) BATON ROUGE, La. -- Jordan Jefferson has finally cracked No. 1 LSU's starting lineup.
Whether he stays there remains to be seen.
Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard each scored two touchdowns, and the Tigers overcame a lackluster first-half to defeat Western Kentucky 42-9 on Saturday night.
"I don't think this was in any way an impassioned effort by our guys, but I think they did the things that they needed to do to ensure victory," coach Les Miles said. "The decision made the staff and myself on the quarterbacks, that is a one-game decision and we'll kind of go from there."
One week after playing most of LSU's 9-6 overtime victory at Alabama, Jefferson got the start against the Hilltoppers, hitting 8 of 14 passes for 168 yards, including a 59-yard scoring strike to Rueben Randle.
LSU (10-0) came in favored by nearly six touchdowns, but led only 14-7 at halftime. The Tigers then dominated the second half to reach 10-0 for the first time since 1958, when they won a national championship. The victory also was Miles' 100th as a head coach, his 72nd at LSU.
"We just were flat," said LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo, who had eight tackles including one sack. "There really is not much you can say about that. Early on we were just not ready to play.
"This game kind of woke us up and we won't let this happen any more games this year. The Alabama game is over now. We are going to move on and hopefully play for a lot more the rest of this season."
Keshawn Simpson had a 2-yard touchdown run for Western Kentucky (5-5), which saw its winning streak end at five.
Hilltoppers quarterback Kuwaun Jakes completed 11 of 24 passes for 97 yards and was intercepted once by linebacker Tahj Jones.
LSU's defense held Bobby Rainey, who came in averaging 138 yards rushing, to 85 yards on 28 carries.
"We played hard and didn't give up," WKU coach Willie Taggart said. "We scored more points than Alabama. I believe we were going to win, but I knew it wouldn't happen if we didn't play perfect."
While LSU struggled to run early, the Tigers eventually wore the Hilltoppers down and finished with 291 yards on the ground, led by Blue's 119 on nine carries.
Jefferson, who lost his starting job when he was arrested in connection with an August bar fight and then suspended for LSU's first four games, has become increasingly involved in the Tigers' offense since his return. Last week's victory at Alabama marked the first time all season he played the majority of the snaps, taking over in that game for good after Jarrett Lee had thrown his second interception of the contest in the third quarter.
Miles had not announced whether Lee or Jefferson would start during the week leading up to LSU's homecoming date with the Hilltoppers. Shortly before kickoff, Lee was announced as the starter over the public address system, but Jefferson took the field for the first series.
Jefferson played until 12 minutes remained in the fourth quarter, when Lee relieved him and immediately drove LSU 82 yards in 14 plays, 10 of them runs, before hitting Kadron Boone with a 5-yard scoring pass.
"We thought we might go with Lee a little earlier than that, but Western Kentucky kind of proved to throw some wrinkles at us that we didn't necessarily anticipate," Miles said, referring to WKU's frequent blitzing. "We liked Jefferson in there in that situation."
Randle praised the play of Jefferson, who LSU did not make available for interviews.
"We left a couple of plays out there we could have made for him, but he did a great job executing the game plan and getting the job done," Randle said.
LSU led 21-7 after Hilliard's first TD from 1 yard out capped an 8-play, 68 yards drive, but Antonio Andrews returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards for WKU, and a few plays later, the Hilltoppers were threatening to cut the deficit back to one score with second-and-goal on the LSU 2.
Western Kentucky then attempted three straight runs, all stuffed by the LSU defense, giving the Tigers the ball on downs at their own 1.
The Hilltoppers salvaged 2 points when they forced Jefferson into an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for s safety. But three plays after WKU received the ensuing free kick, Jakes' passed was tipped and intercepted by Jones on the Hilltoppers 42.
Two plays later, Blue burst through the middle of the line untouched for a 45-yard touchdown, to make it 28-9.
LSU went ahead 35-9 when Blue added his second touchdown from 4 yards out early in the fourth quarter.
"I don't think the score represents how the game went," Rainey said. "In the first half, we were up there with the No. 1 team in the country."
Western Kentucky, in contention to win the Sun Belt Conference, kept it interesting throughout the first half, forcing LSU to punt twice, recovering Odell Beckham Jr.'s fumble on a kickoff return and dominating time of possession, 20:01 to 9:59.
When LSU took the lead on Randle's TD catch on the Tigers' second possession, the Hilltoppers responded with a 10-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 7.
Jakes kept the drive alive with a 10-yard completion to Mitchell Henry at the LSU 19, then found Jack Doyle at the 2 to set up Simpson's score.
WKU even set up a go-ahead field goal attempt in the second quarter, but Casey Tinius' 49-yard kick was short and wide right.
Western Kentucky had entered the game allowing on 99 yards rushing per game during its previous five contests -- all victories -- and dared LSU to throw by packing the middle of the field with defenders. When the Tigers stubbornly tried to run anyway, they stalled. When Jefferson threw, they scored.
One LSU's second scoring drive, Jefferson completed consecutive passes of 6 yards to spencer Ware, 29 yards to Beckham, 24 yards to Chase Clement, setting up Hilliard's 1-yard scoring plunge to make it 14-7 late in the second quarter.
Western Kentucky (5-4) at LSU (9-0) Nov. 12, 7:00, ESPNU
Here’s The Deal … After winning the Game of the Century, what’s next for an encore? It’s Western Kentucky, but the Hilltoppers might not be quite the walk in the park the Tigers might like.
No, there’s no chance of derailing the possible run to the national title, but WKU has a strong defense, one of the best running backs, LSU’s defense has faced all season long, and nothing to lose. On a five-game winning streak after losing the first four, the Hilltoppers are red-hot at the right time, going 5-1 in Sun Belt play and in the hunt for the title with North Texas and Troy up next. It’ll take an Arkansas State to win at least a share of the title, but first, trying to stay alive against LSU, and just coming up with a good showing would be enough.
LSU wants to get in, let the home crowd have its fun after the emotion of last week, and get on to the layup against Ole Miss to prepare for Arkansas. First, the Tigers have a little work to do trying to restore quarterback Jarrett Lee’s confidence after a two-pick day, and a benching, against Alabama, while trying to make the two quarterback system with Jordan Jefferson run a bit more smoothly. It’s not like there’s a lot to work on, but it’s the second-to-last home game, and after last week’s war, a breather would be nice.
Why Western Kentucky Might Win: The defense is just good enough to keep this relatively close. The Hilltopper run defense is feisty and active, led by an aggressive defensive front that gets into the backfield on a regular basis ranking tops in the Sun Belt averaging 7.67 big plays per game. Considering the LSU offense is run first-run only on a regular basis, the Hilltopper linebackers should be able to get into the backfield from time to time before the pitch and should be able to use their speed to get to Jefferson on the option and the backs at the point of attack. The secondary has had the most problems, but if LSU is throwing, the Hilltoppers will take it; it’ll give the pass rush a chance to tee off.
Why LSU Might Win: The only chance WKU has is to come up with plenty of turnovers and capitalize on every opportunity. There’s a problem, though, it has a big problem hanging on to the ball. The Hilltoppers are 103rd in the nation in turnover margin with 21 giveaways on the year with four in the last two games. LSU is second in the nation in turnover margin with a mere five turnovers so far with 20 takeaways. If the Tigers can be focused on offense, and if they can come up with a few turnovers early, it’ll be time to start gameplanning for Ole Miss.
WKU has started to throw better over the last few weeks, but the attack revolved around Bobby Rainey and the running game that averages 162 yards per game. The offense is almost perfectly balanced, but the points are hard to come by against the better defenses, scoring just ten last week against FIU. LSU has more than just a good defense, and it should load up to stop Rainey, force the passing game to try to move the ball through the air, and then the turnovers will come.
What To Watch Out For: This is Rainey’s chance on the big stage to show just how good he can be against any defense. He hasn’t exactly faced LSU-like defenses this year, but he’s rolled for over 100 yards against everyone by Arkansas State, held to 86 yards on 28 carries. Hot over the last few weeks, he rolled for 206 yards and three scores against Louisiana-Lafayette and rumbled for 155 yards against FIU. If he hits the 100-yard mark for the 18th time in 21 games, the NFL scouts will move him up in a hurry.
Jefferson or Lee? Lee or Jefferson? Both. Jefferson saved the day, to a point, against Alabama by not screwing up and throwing for an effective 67 yards and running for 43 yards on 11 carries. Lee completed 3-of-7 throws and had a few chances, but his two picks were too costly. In the midst of a strong season before the problems last week, Lee won’t have to carry the offense, but like before, his job will be to make the throws that are there and to not give the ball away. Any blips, though, and it’ll be Jefferson’s ship to fly full time.
What Will Happen: WKU will make it surprisingly interesting for about two drives. LSU won’t exactly come out with Alabama-like intensity, but eventually the offense will kick it in and the defense will clamp down on the way to a blowout by the end of the first half. On the plus side for WKU, it’ll score a touchdown; Alabama couldn’t.
CFN Prediction: LSU 45 … Western Kentucky 7
Click For Latest Line From ATS: LSU -41.5 O/U: 49.5
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