BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - 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
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
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
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
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
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.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)