The shuffle continues atop the national rankings, and we have the rip-roaring Southeastern Conference to thank for the latest commotion.
The No. 1 LSU Tigers will be welcomed home tomorrow as a team newly housed somewhere towards the bottom of the top 10 after a blown lead and three overtimes led to a loss against 17th ranked Kentucky.
Kentucky QB Andre Woodson didn’t continue the new attempts-without-an-interception streak, or anything else fabulous, but he was good enough to overcome an unimpressive performance by LSU and exact revenge for LSU’s Bluegrass Miracle five years ago.
The game started off sluggish, with the two squads trading punts for most of the first quarter before Kentucky turned an awful shank from LSU (21 yards) into a 10-play, 49-yard drive to score the game’s first touchdown. They looked like they just might build some momentum by stopping the Tigers, but LSU tailback Charles Scott busted out for a 55-yard run on the last play of the quarter, then snagged the last yard and a touchdown on the next play. The Tigers then put together a long field goal drive and turned an interception into a touchdown drive, and Kentucky needed a 51-yard pass to set up a touchdown that cut the Tigers lead to 17-14 at halftime.
Any momentum the Wildcats took into the locker room disappeared quickly, as LSU opened the second half with a mirror image of how they ended the first. They used a 42-yard return on the opening kick to set up a half-the-field touchdown drive, then intercepted Woodson a second time three plays later to create another field goal drive, and in two shakes, LSU had a 27-14 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, their offense decided they had the game, and Kentucky’s defense tightened up. Kentucky out-gained LSU 184-46 over the remaining 19 minutes and suddenly it was a 27-27 tie, as LSU’s last-ditch 57-yard field goal attempt came up well shy.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime session, with Kentucky getting help from a pass interference call. In the second overtime, the two teams combined to gain a pathetic four yards, though LSU and Kentucky managed field goals of 38 and 43 yards, respectively.
Kentucky got the ball to start the third overtime session and had to run a grinding nine plays before finally connecting on a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone after the Tigers defensive back was tripped up by the turf monster. The Wildcats missed on their mandatory two-point conversion, but LSU couldn’t even muster enough for a first own on their turn, getting shut down on fourth and two from Kentucky’s 17-yard line. The Tigers got to watch another sellout crowd of blue storm the field.
The pundits were right that if the Tigers were off their game, Kentucky had the talent to make them pay, but I didn’t think it would actually happen. LSU will look to pick up the pieces next week against an Auburn team that is well known for giving them problems, and Kentucky has no chance to rest either, as they stay home to face the 13th ranked Florida Gators.