(1) L-S-U (6-0) at (17) Kentucky (5-1)
By Sports Network
The Sports Network
GAME NOTES: The top-ranked LSU Tigers takes their game on the road this weekend for an SEC clash with the 17th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. LSU trailed for much of its game against Florida last weekend, but a fourth-quarter surge lifted the Tigers to a thrilling 28-24 victory. They are now 6-0, having won their first five games by no fewer than 12 points, including three wins by more than 40 points. This weekend's clash and next week's battle against Auburn appear to be the two toughest battles remaining on the schedule for LSU, which seems to have an outstanding chance of running the table. As for Kentucky, it is coming off a 38-23 loss to South Carolina last week, but the Wildcats are still 5-1, marking their best start since 1984. They have won seven in a row at home and are in search of their first victory over the nation's top-ranked team since 1964. LSU holds a commanding 38-15-1 advantage in the all-time series with Kentucky, and the Tigers crushed the Wildcats by a 49-0 final last season.
Heading into the fourth quarter of last weekend's much-anticipated showdown with Florida, LSU trailed by a 24-14 count. Less than five minutes into that final frame, the Tigers cut the deficit to 24-21 on a four-yard touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd. Then, with just over one minute remaining in the clash, Jacob Hester plunged into the end zone from two yards out to cap a 15-play, 60-yard drive and lift LSU to victory. The Tigers managed 391 total yards in the clash, including 247 yards on the ground. Hester led the charge with 106 yards on 23 carries, and Flynn completed 14-of-27 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown. Although backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux entered the contest with better numbers than Flynn, Perrilloux only attempted one pass. He did, however, run for 23 yards and one touchdown. LSU is scoring 37.8 ppg this season to go along with 432.0 ypg of total offense. Of the 29 touchdowns that the offense has managed, 19 have come on the ground. Also, the Tigers have racked up 227.3 rushing ypg. Hester, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, leads the club with 433 rushing yards and is tied for the lead with five touchdowns. It remains to be seen if wideout Early Doucet will be able to fight through a groin injury and play this week.
The LSU defense has been labeled by many fans and analysts the best defensive unit in all of college football. The reason for the billing is obvious, as the Tigers surrendered a grand total of 32 points through the first five games of the campaign. Finally, the defense met its match last weekend, as the Florida Gators were able to score three touchdowns on drives spanning 77, 72, and 75 yards. Give the defense credit for pulling it together, however, as Florida was held scoreless over the final 20 minutes of the tilt, paving the way for the comeback victory. Although LSU did not dominate the Florida game with stifling defense, the club is still surrendering just 9.3 ppg this season. Opponents are gaining a mere 58.5 rushing ypg against LSU on 1.9 ypc. As for the pass defense, opposing quarterbacks have completed 74-of-177 throws for 139.3 ypg with three touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Through the first five games of this season, and for almost every game last season, Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson has played nearly flawless football. He recently set the NCAA record for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception, and he was considered a major Heisman candidate heading into last weeks clash with South Carolina. Unfortunately, Woodson looked like a completely different quarterback in that contest. Sure, he still managed to throw a pair of touchdown passes, but he was throwing off his back foot and making poor decisions, something that he simply doesn't do most times out. One interception and three fumbles by the 'Cats were too much to overcome. Kentucky is averaging 42.7 ppg and 474.2 total ypg this season. The ground attack accounts for 212.5 ypg, and Rafael Little leads the way with 682 yards. As for Woodson, he has completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 1,536 yards and 18 touchdowns with only two interception. Keenan Burton is the best of the club's receivers, as he has made 37 catches for 498 yards and five scores.
While South Carolina did score 38 points last week, Kentucky's defense did not play as poorly as that figure indicates. Two of the five touchdowns scored by the Gamecocks came on defense. Still, there is plenty of room for the Wildcats to improve, as they permitted three touchdown drives of 62 or more yards. Kentucky is holding its opponents to 24.7 ppg and 377.7 total ypg. There is some room to improve in regard to run defense, as the 'Cats are yielding 183.7 ypg and 4.6 ypc. As for the play against the pass, Kentucky has surrendered seven touchdowns while recording nine interception. Wesley Woodyard is clearly the most important player for the UK defense, as he has made 65 total tackles, more than double the total of his closest teammate.
Andre Woodson is certainly eager to put the shaky performance against South Carolina behind him, but it is hard to imagine the standout signal caller rebounding against LSU. Expect the Tigers to pull this one out on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 30, Kentucky 20
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