Previewing LSU At Kentucky

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Cats Look To Equal History

A week ago in front of a raucous crowd at Kroger Field, the Kentucky football team knocked off Florida 20-13 for the first home win since 1986. It’s another on the list that Mark Stoops has checked off in the last few years. On Saturday they look to do something they haven’t done in over 70 years. Can they get it done against the Tigers? Let’s find out as we look at both teams and give you a prediction as we begin previewing LSU at Kentucky.

Winning With Defense

During the first two games of the 2021 season, the Kentucky offense went for over 500 yards against both Louisiana-Monroe and Missouri. However, since then they’ve struggled with gaining yards and scoring points. In fact, the Wildcat attack is only averaging 304 yards over the last three including only 224 against the Gators. The biggest culprit in this has been turnovers. While they only had one last Saturday for the year they still rank next to last in all of college football with a -6 turnover margin. Only Wisconsin is worse.

Those stats can be a little misleading because both Chris Rodriguez and Wan’Dale Robinson led the SEC in rushing and receiving yards respectively with 621 and 467. It’s simply a matter of getting the ball in the end zone. Thank goodness Brad White’s defense has come up strong the last three weeks. Against Chattanooga, Tyrell Ajian iced the game with a 95-yard interception return. Fast forward a week and the Cats repeatedly kept South Carolina out of the end zone in their 16-10 victory.  Last week of course Trevin Wallace scooped up a blocked field goal by Josh Paschal and took it 76 yards to the house. Then on the final play, Jacquez Jones batted down an Emory Jones pass to preserve the win.

Offensive coordinator Liam Coen says his group is ready to break through and when it does, it’s going to be special. Recently it’s been a combination of turnovers, missed passes, or missed blocks. In fact, Will Levis will be without one of his top targets as Josh Ali is out a couple of weeks with an injury.

Whether the breakthrough happens on Saturday against an LSU offense that ranks 93rd in the country and last in the SEC in pass defense giving up 248 yards per game remains to be seen. Speaking of the visitors as we continue previewing LSU versus Kentucky let’s look at the Tigers.

Scouting The Tigers

Ed Orgeron’s club comes into Saturday’s game sporting a 3-2 record and 1-1 in the SEC. Meanwhile, they are coming off a 24-19 home loss to Auburn in which they allowed 14 unanswered fourth quarter points. In addition LSU is a very mediocre 8-7 since winning the 2019 National Championship led by Joe Burrow. Speaking of quarterbacks Max Johnson is the man under center. The sophomore’s put up some very impressive numbers in 2021 completing 63 percent of his passes for 1,468 yards and 14 touchdowns and only four picks.

Johnson’s favorite target is sophomore wide receiver Kayshon Boutte. So far in 2021, he ranks just behind Robinson in receiving yards with 435 and leads not only the SEC but the nation in touchdowns with nine. In addition to Boutte, the other favorite targets are Jack Beck and Trey Palmer. Another player to look out for is Deion Smith, who averages a whopping 17 yards per catch and two scores.

While the passing game is solid the Tigers have had trouble with the run. Through five games LSU has only rushed for more than 100 yards once, and that was against FCS school McNeese State. Against Auburn, they only mustered 33 yards on the ground. Tyrion Davis-Price leads the way with 282 yards.

On the other side of the ball, the defense has been hit hard by injuries. Ultimately, All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is out indefinitely after having a procedure done on his foot. If that wasn’t enough starting safety Major Burns is also out for Saturday. Look for the Cats to really establish the passing game with Robinson.

As we do every week in our preview let’s look at the history between Kentucky and LSU.

Series History

LSU leads the series all-time with Kentucky 40-16 and there’s been one tie. The first meeting happened in 1949 with the Cats winning 19-0 in Baton Rouge. From 1952- 2002 the two schools played every year. However when the SEC expanded and Mississippi State became Kentucky’s yearly west opponent that fell by the wayside. Overall the Tigers’ longest win streak was 13 from 1961-1973. On the other side of the ball, Kentucky’s longest streak is two from 1949-1950. As we continue previewing LSU at Kentucky let’s look at their last meetings.

The Last Time They Met

As mentioned above the Cats and Tigers don’t play very often anymore. Furthermore, the last two meetings came in 2011 and 2014 both of them in Baton Rouge with LSU winning 31-7 and 41-3 respectively. While the last time they played in Lexington was in 2007 and it was one for the ages. Kentucky knocked off Les Miles’ number one ranked squad 43-37 in three overtimes. Andre Woodson hit Stevie Johnson on a seven-yard touchdown pass giving the Cats the lead. On the ensuing drive, Braxton Kelly stopped Charles Scott on a fourth and two giving the Cats their first win over a number one team since beating Ole Miss in 1964. As a result, we at Last Word On College Football named it the school’s greatest football victory.

Now that we’ve gotten you ready for Saturday it’s time for the all-important question, who wins?

Which Cats Come Out Victorious?

As mentioned in the beginning a win on Saturday gives Kentucky a 6-0 start. That would be the first time since 1950 when Bear Bryant was the coach that the Cats started a year 6-0. In addition, they come into the game as a rare three-point favorite against LSU. In fact, this is the first time in series history a ranked Kentucky team faces an unranked LSU squad. Not to mention, this is only the third time ever UK’s been ranked facing LSU. We’ve talked a lot about Stoops checking off boxes and indeed last week took care of a couple.

Now attention turns to the SEC West for the UK head man. Taking out the 3-5 record against Mississippi State Stoops is 1-9 against the rest of the division. The one win came in 2019 against an Arkansas squad that finished 2-10. Beating LSU on Saturday gives him that breakthrough against a traditional SEC West power. Facing a depleted Tiger defense the Cats get the job done and move to 6-0.

Kentucky 24-17

Thanks for previewing LSU at Kentucky with us here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back after the game with a recap and will have our updated bowl projections where a win against LSU has Kentucky poised to make a big jump.