BATON ROUGE -- After a wild finish where the outcome changed with zeros on the Tiger Stadium clock, the 12th-ranked LSU football (5-0, 3-0 SEC) team left undefeated with a 16-14 victory over Tennessee (2-3, 0-2 SEC).
Late in the fourth quarter, Tennessee looked to add to its 14-10 lead when they moved into Tigers territory. However, the Vols elected to go for a fourth-and-1 from the LSU 31 and Tauren Poole's run went for no gain. The Tigers took over with 5:41 to play.
LSU, which interchanged quarterbacks throughout the game, went with pass-oriented backup Jarrett Lee for most of the game's final drive. Lee converted a third-and-13 pass to wide receiver Terrence Toliver for 14 yards to the Tennessee 34. After a delay penalty with 1:22 to play, Lee's fourth-and-14 pass from the 38 was caught by Toliver for 21 yards to the Tennessee 17.
A 7-yard catch by Deangelo Peterson setup second-and-3 with 54 seconds remaining. Tennessee called timeout to setup its defense, and LSU spread the field to setup a Ridley run to the first-down marker. On first-and-goal, Tennessee was then flagged for pass interference on wide receiver Rueben Randle with 36 seconds left.
From the 2, the Tigers came out in a "heavy" formation with multiple tight ends. Lee faked a handoff and looked for tight end Chase Clement on the right side, but he was covered and Lee threw the ball out of the endzone.
Starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson re-entered and attempted a run around the right end that was stopped at the 1-yard line with 28 seconds to play. LSU elected to change personnel and spread the field, but time was running under 10 seconds by the time the Tigers were lined up. With the clock running down, center T-Bob Hebert snapped the ball to Jefferson who missed the ball, and it was recovered by Tennessee at the 19-yard line. The Volunteers erupted onto the field only to learn that they had 13 players on the previous play.
Once the field was cleared and the teams returned to the sidelines, the game came down to a final play. On an untimed down with the clock at 0:00, Jefferson tossed a sweep to Ridley who muscled Tennessee defensive end Corey Miller into the endzone and changed the Tigers fortune for the better.
"I don't know that we can play any sloppier," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "I don't know if we could have planned it any poorer. I think we are a very talented team. I don't think we played near to our capacities. The series of downs in the back end of that game was embarrassing to me."
Ridley led the Tigers rushing attack with 123 yards on 22 carries and the deciding touchdown. Jefferson added 100 yards on five carries, including an 83-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage -- the longest run by an LSU quarterback in history.
The duo became the first Tigers to surpass 100 yards rushing in a game since Alley Broussard and Joseph Addai in 2004.
Lee, who took his first significant snaps of the season, finished 16-of-23 passing for 185 yards. He was intercepted in the endzone on LSU's second-to-last drive. After doing most of his damage on the ground, Jefferson started and finished 3-of-10 passing for 30 yards with two interceptions.
Randle was the Tigers leading receiver with 69 yards on four catches, while Peterson added five grabs for 45 yards. Toliver made three catches for 52 yards, while Russell Shepard had three for 26 yards.
After keeping its perfect record intact, LSU will next face Florida at a time to be announced (Sunday morning) in Gainesville.
Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms was 12-of-23 for 121 yards, while Poole ran 24 times for 109 yards and a touchdown. Simms was sacked five times and netted minus-32 yards on 10 carries with a 1-yard touchdown.
LSU outgained Tennessee, 434-217. The Tigers were penalized nine times for 54 yards.
Tennessee won the coin toss and deferred until the second half.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and needed only one play to put points on the board. Jefferson faked a handoff to Shepard, who lined up at running back, darted past the line of scrimmage and outran the Volunteers defense for an 83-yard touchdown. It was the longest run by a quarterback in LSU history and gave LSU a 7-0 lead only 17 seconds into the game.
LSU took over at its 43-yard line with Lee under center for his first significant snaps this season. Lee completed a 16-yard pass to freshman Spencer Ware to the Tennessee 41 and then a 10-yarder to Randle for another first down to the 26 where the drive stalled. Ridley ran around the left end for 20 yards, but the Tigers were flagged for holding and never recovered. Jasper missed a 54-yard field goal attempt, allowing Tennessee to take over at its 37.
Simms guided the Volunteers 63 yards in 10 plays to a game-tying drive when Poole scored on second-and-goal from the 1. The key play was 26-yard catch and run by Gerald Jones to the LSU 3-yard line after LSU freshman defensive back Tyrann Mathieu missed a tackle on third-and-3.
The game was tied at 7-7 with 24 seconds left in the opening quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Jefferson connected with Peterson and Toliver for first down passes, and had first-and-10 at the Tennessee 36. On third-and-5, a pass to Peterson was completed short of the first down when the ball was knocked out of the receiver's hands while attempting to stretch toward the marker. Tennessee recovered at its 28.
The teams traded four punts prior to the half as only LSU crossed midfield for the remaining 12:15 of the half.
The teams were tied at the break, 7-7.
Early in the third quarter, an interception by Jefferson on third-and-14 from the LSU 14 put the Vols in Tigers territory for the first time since the first quarter at the 38.
However, the Tigers defense again came up with a big sack on third-and-12 from the LSU 21. Mathieu and linebacker Barkevious Mingo were reached Simms on a blitz and tackled him for a 7-yard loss. The 45-yard field goal attempt by Tennessee freshman Michael Palardy was missed to the right.
Three series later -- and after another Tennessee three-and-out -- Ridley powered the Tigers into the Tennessee red zone with runs of 20 and 14 yards. The drive stalled at the 14, and Jasper connected on a 31-yard field goal to give LSU a 10-7 lead with 14:50 remaining in the game.
Tennessee answered with its longest drive of the afternoon, eight plays for 71-yards, which included a 37-yard catch to the LSU 27-yard line on third-and-3 by wide receiver Justin Hunter. On third-and-6 from the 23, LSU again brought pressure, but Poole ran around the right end for 20 yards. On second-and-goal from the 3, Simms kept the snap and scored around the left end.
LSU trailed for the first time since the opening quarter of the season-opener against North Carolina, 10-7, with 11:34 to play.
Patrick Peterson returned the kickoff to the LSU 29, where the Tigers quickly picked up a first down at the LSU 44 on a pass from Lee to Shepard. Under pressure, Lee stood in the pocket and connected with Randle for 47 yards to the Tennessee 9. After a timeout, Lee's first-down pass intended for Ridley on a wheel route was intercepted by linebacker LaMarcus Thompson in the left corner of the endzone.
Tennessee led 14-10 until the events in the final minutes changed the result.
The crowd of 92,932 was the fifth-largest in Tiger Stadium history.