No. 1 Football Suffocates Kentucky, 35-7
LSU Sports Interactive
BATON ROUGE -- A Saturday morning kickoff in Tiger Stadium barely slowed the No. 1 LSU football team, as the Tigers smothered Kentucky's offense and won, 35-7.
LSU improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play. Kentucky fell to 2-3 overall, 0-2 in the SEC.
The Tigers next play host to No. 12 Florida on Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m. CT in Tiger Stadium.
LSU starting quarterback Jarrett Lee was able to make the most of a windy morning and early afternoon despite only 8-of-21 passing. He threw for 169 yards including a 51-yard touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr. Lee also setup the Tigers first touchdown with a 37-yard pass to Rueben Randle, and completed a 23-yard pass to Beckham Jr. to the Wildcats 4-yard line that led to LSU's final touchdown.
Quarterback Jordan Jefferson saw his first action of the season after returning from suspension. He scored on fourth-and-1 to cap the Tigers first scoring drive. He did not attempt a pass, finishing with four carries for 29 yards. Zach Mettenberger also took snaps for the Tigers in the final drive of the game.
Beckham Jr. led the receiving corps with three catches for 75 yards, while Russell Shepard added two grabs for 35 yards.
Alfred Blue helped the Tigers rushing attack overcome a slow start and the loss of starter Spencer Ware, who left the game in the first quarter with an injury. Blue gained 72 yards on 16 carries with a 1-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter.
Tyrann Mathieu again wowed the Tigers faithful with a spectacular sack, strip, scoop and score in the third quarter. Mathieu gave LSU a 28-0 lead with a leaping blitz and strip of Kentucky backup quarterback Maxwell Smith, followed by a scoop at the 23-yard line and a waltz into the south endzone.
The Wildcats had only 59 yards of total offense until adding 66 on their only scoring drive late in the fourth quarter. Kentucky ran 64 plays for 155 net yards.
LSU had 10 tackles for a loss of 34 yards including five sacks.
LSU had 348 total yards on 67 plays.
Kentucky starting quarterback Morgan Newton started and struggled against the wind -- and the swarming LSU defense. He wasn't able to complete a pass until the final minute of the first half and finished 6-of-20 passing for 57 yards including a 4-yard touchdown with 4:22 to play. Newton also ran nine times for 33 yards. Smith was 1-for-5 for nine yards and was sacked twice.
Running back Josh Clemons had 69 yards on 21 carries with a long of 17. Wide receiver Matt Roark caught four passes for 19 yards and a touchdown.
Kentucky won the coin toss and elected to defer its decision until the second half.
For the first time this season, LSU received the opening kickoff and set the tone for the half -- a three-and-out series followed by a punt. On a windy morning, neither team found success throwing the ball in the opening half, combining for 10 series without a first down.
Kentucky's Newton didn't complete a pass until there was less than minute to play in the second quarter, while Lee was only 6-of-18 passing.
Lee, however, had a 37-yard pass to Randle that led to the Tigers' first score and a 51-yard catch-and-run by Beckham Jr. in the second quarter.
The Wildcats gained only 45 net yards in the half, while LSU totaled 201.
On its second drive of the game, LSU broke into the scoring column with a 12-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a touchdown run by Jefferson on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Lee completed a third-and-9 pass to Shepard for 13 yards and a third-and-8 pass to tight end Deangelo Peterson for 11 yards to keep the drive alive. On second-and-11 at the Kentucky 42, Lee's 37-yard toss to Randle was key to the drive.
Jefferson's 10th career rushing touchdown gave LSU a 7-0 with 7:06 remaining in the opening quarter.
On LSU's second drive of the second quarter, Shepard ran an end-around 13 yards to the LSU 49. Three plays later, Lee dropped back to his 40 and connected with Beckham Jr. at the Kentucky 37 where the freshman receiver dodge the first of five would-be tacklers. He scampered all the way to the right side of the field and outran three more defenders to the endzone. The 51-yard touchdown was Beckham Jr.'s second touchdown in as many weeks, and gave LSU a 14-0 lead with 11:14 remaining in the half.
In the third quarter, LSU's running game found its footing. After gaining only 15 yards on its first 12 attempts, the Tigers next 20 carries netted 102.
With starter Ware sidelined since the first quarter, the three LSU backups took turns with carries on a 10-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Blue. On third-and-5 from midfield, an acrobatic 22-yard catch by Shepard from Lee again kept the Tigers' offense moving. LSU led 21-0 with 8:07 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Mathieu continued to display his athleticism when he came on a third-down blitz from the left side, leapt toward Smith and knocked the ball from his hand as cornerback Ron Brooks struck the quarterback in the chest. After the 8-yard sack, Mathieu chased down the ball at the Kentucky 23, scooped and scored for the second time this season.
LSU led 28-0 with 4:30 left in the quarter.
With Kentucky pinned near its endzone after a holding penalty on the kickoff, the Tigers defense forced a punt and LSU took over at the Kentucky 47.
A 23-yard catch by Beckham Jr. setup a 1-yard run by Magee, as LSU led 35-0 with 10:39 remaining.
With Newton returning as quarterback on the Wildcats final drive, Kentucky worked its way past the LSU 47 for the first time in the game. On second-and-goal from the LSU 4, Newton tossed a perfect corner route to Matt Roark for a touchdown that provided the final margin.
LSU led 35-7 after the 12-play, 70-yard drive.
The announced crowd was 92,660 for the Tigers' first morning kickoff since LSU moved its opener against Appalachian State in 2008 to 10 a.m. as Hurricane Gustav threatened south Louisiana.