REPORT CARD: Kentucky 43, LSU 37

Ultimately, another miracle was needed to beat Kentucky in Commonwealth Stadium. This time, the miracle didn't happen.

With: 02 showing on the clock, shades of 2002 were visible:  in the eyes of Tigers fans where it was bright, and in the eyes of Wildcats fans where it was "Yep, we know what's coming." Colt David's 57-yard field goal attempt went just wide left, however, setting off a triple overtime marathon that ended with No. 1 LSU becoming the first top-ranked team to fall to Kentucky since No. 1 Ole Miss lost to them in 1964.


The Tigers' undisputed reign at the top of the football world lasted just six days. At least one world, it is believed by many, was created in that amount of time. It only took four quarters and three extra sessions to undo the unblemished record that had been created through six games in 2007.


On the bright side, LSU is not the first No. 1 team to go down this season and is No. 4 in the first Bowl Championship Series rankings. By all indications, it is highly likely now that at least one team in the national championship game will have a blemish. The Tigers still control their destiny in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division, still control their destiny as far as getting to Atlanta, Ga., for the SEC Championship Game, and still control whether they will claim the title of SEC Champions. Where the season heads from there, though, is out of their paws.





Once again, LSU was plagued by dropped passes and an offensive line that had trouble pass protecting and run blocking at times. In previous weeks, the Tigers were able to overcome the offense's slow starts and miscues. Against Kentucky, what worked in the first half seemed to be abandoned in the second half. There were other issues as well.


After rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns on five carries in the first half, Charles Scott was given the ball just once in the second half. His hot hands grew cold and, instead of having a career night (even with only two carries after the first two quarters he only finished 7 yards shy of his career-high rushing total), the lasting memory of him now is coming up short on a fourth-and-two to end the game. Lack of running space was the fault of a missed assignment, however, not an error by Scott.


Matt Flynn was just 17-of-35 passing for 130 yards with one touchdown and an interception and was sacked three times. To Flynn's credit, a few of his passes that went for naught simply slipped through the hands of receivers, including a potential touchdown pass to Keith Zinger that forced LSU to settle for a field goal and a 27-14 advantage instead of a 17-point lead late in the third quarter. But there were also missed receivers and poorly thrown balls on Flynn's part.


The Tigers left a few opportunities to score on the field in regulation and scored on less than half of its 11 possessions.







Even without starting running back Rafael Little, LSU's defense still had problems stopping Kentucky's ground game at times, and the secondary allowed passes to be completed in the middle of the field that made it look as though Andre Woodson was simply playing pitch-and-catch with receivers.


Even with interceptions by Chad Jones and Chevis Jackson, Woodson still threw for over 200 yards in regulation. When Kentucky needed to, it scored. When the Wildcats did score, they covered a lot of ground fast. That included a five-play, 78-yard drive for a touchdown that lasted just 37 seconds and a seven-play, 82-yard touchdown possession that took just 2:30 off of the clock.


Faced with several third-and-long opportunities, the Tigers could never seem to get off of the field and compounded the problem with personal fouls and pass interference penalties that kept drives alive for the Wildcats. No doubt, some of those fouls were imagined or ticky-tack at best, and it's difficult for Jonathan Zenon to defend when a receiver pulls him down to the ground prior to catching a pass for a touchdown, but to fail to register a sack and only have four tackles for loss certainly didn't help matters. There were also times where defenders simply lost track of the ball altogether or looked lost. The latter of these two issues was particularly prevalent in the first quarter.


Including overtime, Kentucky was a perfect 7-for-7 against LSU in the red zone. Extending that statistic over the season, opponents are now an immaculate 15-for-15 when they get inside of the Tigers 20-yard line.







All punts from Kentucky were fielded or correctly let go into the end zone for touchbacks. Patrick Fisher nearly had one punt blocked and shanked another for just 20 yards to give the Wildcats a short field early.


Colt David was 3-for-4 kicking field goals, and his only miss came on a potential game-winning 57-yard attempt. The best field position that Kentucky had following a kickoff was at its own 40-yard line, and that was only because of a 5-yard offsides penalty.


Special teams certainly didn't lose the game and appeared to come within two or three yards of winning it in regulation.







The effort may have been there, the focus may have been too, but there were certainly times when there were mini mental breakdowns – defensive players not knowing where to line up, the drops, and blown coverages or assignments.


Offensively, the Tigers seemed to get away from what was working so well against Kentucky in the first half. In the second half, LSU fell victim to not being able to protect a fourth-quarter lead on the road one week after overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit at home.


Defensively, LSU simply hasn't looked like the dominating juggernaut of the first three weeks as of late and, as the season goes on, opponents are putting up more and more points. Seeing another quarterback rush in for a touchdown untouched inside of the red zone when all of his receivers were covered was disappointing.


For the most part, LSU's coaches put the players in the right position, but getting those same players to execute at times was an issue.


GRADE: B -  

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