YouGabSports Blogs
LSU Week in (P)Review
Category: NCAA
Tags: LSU FLORIDA LES MILES KENTUCKY COLLEGE FOOTBALL MISSISSIPPI ST. TCU

I shared a couple of thoughts on the upcoming game with BOB earlier, but there are a few different LSU-related topics here.

I hadn’t really talked about just how LSU is coming along as a team and x’s and o’s in a couple of weeks, so I thought I’d do that now.

Miles tells reporters to

Miles tells reporters to “have a great day” before LSU beat Tennessee to win the SEC in 2007.

This last game was Les Miles 100th win at LSU. Maybe it’s appropriate that we didn’t beat Mississippi St. in the last second. It just would not have been fitting for win #100 to have been a blowout win over New Mexico St. Florida was the 23rd Les Miles win in which the Tigers trailed at some point in the fourth quarter. That’s nearly 1/4 of his wins.

Here is a video tribute I enjoyed:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmJ0FuTHPqI (I would note that Miles is not the “winningest” coach at LSU: Charles McClendon is still 37 wins ahead of him.)

To refer to one of his quotes in the video, it does seem like LSU’s game plan includes a “muddle around” period.

LSU is .500 in such games under Miles, much better than any other team. I read that Texas is second with 18 wins after trailing in the fourth quarter, but that’s against 32 losses.

I added a new section to the LSU/Florida rivalry blog about how this was similar to a couple other wins at the Swamp in the last 10 years.

I also wrote a complete LSU/Kentucky rivalry blog.

I was counting on Jeff Driskel to screw up and hoping Anthony Jennings didn’t screw up too badly, and that’s about what happened. I did think LSU would manage more than 110 passing yards for the game though (41 were on one play, and the only passes of more than 10 yards were in the fourth quarter). That’s the main problem that I didn’t foresee going into this season. I thought we would be consistently 225-250 yards per game passing by this point.

LSU does still average 205 per game, which isn’t good, but it’s deceivingly good nonetheless. It’s inflated by the Mississippi St. game where LSU threw for 341 yards, most of them in a second-half comeback effort.

The other major area of weakness so far has been rush defense, but I think this game was a much more reasonable gauge of that than Auburn or Mississippi St. were. LSU only allowed 123 rushing yards by Florida. That’s respectable against a team that had about twice as many rushes as completed passes. Especially a fairly competitive SEC team (they weren’t pretty games, but the Gators are 2-0 in the East) in a road game.

When I watched TCU on Saturday, I was reminded of the difficulties LSU had in kick coverage against the Horned Frogs last season. It was weird that they demonstrated precisely the problems I remembered, especially being that Dubose had run back a kick for a touchdown against LSU before.

LSU seems to have a reasonably good location punter. I don’t know why they waited until the last punt to kick it out of bounds. So basically they replaced the rush defense problems with the kick coverage problems. Otherwise, this might have been a somewhat comfortable win.

Back to the rush defense, this next game might tell a bit more. LSU has struggled in the past against the wildcat, but I don’t think Kentucky has the likes of Felix Jones and Darren McFadden. Also, the scouting reports indicate Kentucky has very little ability to throw from the wildcat, so that might be a comfort.

I think I’ll be more worried about the other plays. QB Patrick Towles has completed over 62% of his passes and has thrown for over 1500 yards (more than 8 yards per attempt). He also can throw to just about any wide receiver on the field, which can strain pass coverage of course.

On the other hand, many of those yards came against UT-Martin and Florida (which was a 3OT game). If you take out those two games, Kentucky has fewer passing yards per game than LSU does.

Towles can run a little bit though. He’s no Dak Prescott, but he ran for 59 yards against Ohio, for example.

I didn’t mention place-kicking earlier. I didn’t see anything wrong with the missed extra-point attempt other than it missing. Hopefully, that was just a fluke event. PK Colby Delahoussaye said he just got too close to the ball. At any rate, it was nice to make up for it with a 50-yard field goal. It’s good to know he can do that.

Not to delve into philosophy too much, but he probably wouldn’t have had a chance to win the game had he made the extra point. Florida likely would have gone for the end zone had they trailed by four. If rather than a tie game, Florida had a three-point lead on the last drive, Driskel may not have thrown the pass that was intercepted. If Florida had failed to score altogether, the kick at the end would not have been necessary either.

Anyway, because of some of the things I mentioned earlier (as well as the recent LSU-Kentucky games I wrote about in detail ), I ‘m thinking of doing a blog about crazy LSU wins. There was a fair number under Saban as well. Seasons like this one might be an exception (assuming we lose four or five instead of two or three)., but Saban’s teams tended to be a little more unpredictable overall, so that helped. I don’t think they had the same knack for falling behind teams they shouldn’t though.

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow my wordpress site or my page on facebook.

Irish Shu's Mid-season Review
Category: NCAA
Tags: College Football Notre Dame Shamrock series uniforms Rice Michigan Purdue Syracuse Stanford North Carolina Everett Golson Will Fuller

College football season is already half-done…DAMN!!!

(Yeah, this is my ex-wife when she saw my dick for the first time…I wish!)

…And so comes Irish Shu with his mid-season review to look back at the first 6 games for his beloved Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The short version?  Well, they’re undefeated and ranked number 5 after their first 6 games, which is one win better than I had predicted by this point.  WELL DONE, INDEED! 

The biggest and best surprise has been a young-and-inexperienced, but very aggressive and game defense. 

New D-coordinator Brian Van Gorder (yeah, he DOES look like “Uncle Rico” from Napoleon Dynamite, doesn’t he?) loves to be aggressive and send the house on D, and the strategy has paid-off more than it has hurt the Irish.  The D did have an “off day” against North Carolina last weekend and was gashed for 43 points and over 500 yards in a game the Irish still won, but other than that, they’ve been solid.  Nationally, the D ranks 34th in total Defense with 348.3 yards per game and 8th in scoring D with 17.2 points per game (tied with Marshall)…VERY impressive when one considers the youth, plus the sloppy Carolina game being factored into that.

Offensively they have also been lighting it up…at least where the passing game is concerned. 

Quarterback Everett Golson has had a very good season overall thus far, going 135 of 216 on his passes for a 62.5% completion rate with 1,683 yards and 16 touchdowns against 4 interceptions.  Midway through the season he’s already thrown for 4 more touchdowns than he did in his entire freshman year when the Irish made it to the national championship game. He’s been sharing the wealth with most of his receivers, although Will Fuller has been the closest thing to his “go-to guy” with over 500 yards of receptions and 7 touchdowns…

However, Golson has also taken his lumps.  After being nearly-flawless in the first 3 games, he’s been doing an impression of “Turnover Tommy” from last year in the last 3 games.  His 4 interceptions all came in the last 3 games and 2 of those were pick-6’s, he has also fumbled 5 times in those same 3 games.  Against Carolina, his turnovers were especially costly as the Tar Heels cashed them in for 21 of their points, so the Irish were fortunate to win that one.

While the passing game is going well despite the turnovers, the running game could also be better.  The running-back-by-committee approach has gotten the Irish only 983 yards this year.  Granted, it could be worse, but more than half the nations’ teams are doing better in that category. 

In Notre Dame’s defense, though, it’s not all on Golson or the halfbacks.  The O-line has had a tough time with consistency on both pass protection and opening the running lanes, so there has been some shuffling with the O-line that has played-into that inconsistency.  They’ll need more time to gel.

With that, let’s recap the first half game-by-game:

RICE:  As far as season openers go, I could not have asked for better.  The Irish came-out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball and routed the Owls 48-17.  

Everett Golson started his season with a bang, throwing 2 long touchdown passes to Fuller and CJ Prosise and running for 3 scores himself in what was his thus-far best played game.  The Irish D did allow the Owls to score on 2 long passes, but otherwise kept them in check and forced 2 turnovers to their none.  It was a good start over a Conference USA team which has quietly been putting a decent season together after their 0-3 start.  They’ve won their last 3 games since and have a manageable schedule left, so they could make it to a bowl game.

MICHIGAN:  So, Notre Dame “chickened out” by taking your team off the schedule, eh, Coach Brady Hoke?...they handed your teams’ ass to you 31-0, pal, that don’t sound like chickening out to me. 

In doing so, the Irish shut-out the hapless Wolverines for the first time since 1985, ending their NCAA-record streak of games without being shut out at 365.  Golson threw for 3 TD’s and 226 yards and the only Michigan player who had any success was receiver Devin Funchess who caught 9 passes for 107 yards…and has struggled with injuries since.  Michigan QB Devin Gardner otherwise screwed the pooch as he was responsible for 4 turnovers including 3 interceptions and a fumble.  He also threw a pick-6 in the closing seconds of the game that should have counted for 6 more points for ND, but didn’t due to a bullshit blocking call for a legal hit on Gardner after the threw the pick.  Since then?  Nothing but trouble for Meat Chicken: Hoke’s head is being called for as-is that of athletic director Dave Brandon, not only for his teams’ poor performance (the ND loss started a 4-game losing streak) but for his failure to protect QB Shane Morris after Morris took a shot to his head in the Minnesota game, got up woozy and was allowed to stay in the game…don’t even get my pal, the Beezer, started on that!

PURDUE:  The Boilermakers always seem to play tough against Notre Dame even in years where they play shitty against everyone else, and they did this time, as well. 

Wearing the coolest-looking “Shamrock Series” uniforms I’ve seen in years, the Irish did win 30-14, but started to look vulnerable when they let Purdue hang around for the first half before putting them away in the 2nd.  Golson was sacked 4 times, and the secondary started coming apart at the seams when safety Max Redfield was ejected for targeting, and 2 other backfield players left with injuries.  Still, the Irish got the win over a Purdue team that now sits at 3-4 and will be lucky to finish at .500 with the bulk of their Big Ten schedule left to go.

SYRACUSE:  An UGLY game, and not just because ‘Cuse wore those ugly gray uniforms, either. 

This was where Golson started his current struggles to maintain possession of the football as he threw his first 2 interceptions of the season and also lost 2 fumbles, but he also offset those mistakes by completing 82% of his passes, including a school-record 25 in a row at one point (one short of tying the NCAA record) and the Irish won 31-15.  5-star sophomore receiver Torii Hunter Jr. FINALLY recovered from his injuries and saw his first action as an Irish player as he caught his first TD pass in the win.  Will Fuller, being a rock for Golson, caught 2 other scores.  Syracuse, meanwhile, has struggled since then as they lost their starting QB in Terrell Hunt to a broken leg and have lost their last 4 games.  With the bulk of their ACC schedule left, they’ll be lucky to finish at .500.

STANFORD: Thus far, this has been the biggest game the Irish have played this year…and man, they really came through!  Both teams struggled on offense against each other’s tough D units and some very wet weather, and Notre Dame left some points off the board via 2 missed field goals and a Golson fumble on Stanford’s 10-yard-line, but the Irish D did just enough for the team to come away with a 17-14 win.  The highlight of the game was Golson’s 4th-and-11 touchdown pass to tight end Ben Koyack with a minute left to clinch the win. 

The Irish won’t face a stronger defense for the rest of the regular season, but it may not matter if the O keeps turning the ball over.  We shall see.  As for the Cardinal?  They did bounce-back to beat Wazzu last week and snow sit at 4-2 and back in the rankings at #23, but with #17 Arizona State, #9 Oregon, #20 Utah and a very good UCLA team still left for them to play, an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game and another Rose Bowl may be too much to ask of them.

NORTH CAROLINA:  PUKE!!!  Sloppiest, ugliest game the Irish have played this year.  

Golson remained turnover-prone with 4 of them and the Defense had their worst game in years as they yielded 43 points and 510 yards…however, it should be pointed out that the Tar Heels, with QB Marquise Williams running for a career-high 132 yards, really threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Irish, including a few Wildcat and gadget plays.  They also did some up-tempo no-huddle offense to keep ND from rotating defensive players in…it was an Irish win, though, 50-43, and also the highest-scoring game ever played at ND Stadium.  The Tar Heels, meanwhile, stand at 2-4 but the good news for them is that don’t play another ranked team for the rest of the season and, if they play anything like they did against Notre Dame (A BIG IF), most of those games are winnable for them.

So with the first 6 games in the books, we look ahead to the last 6…this is where the real test starts. 

Of course, the biggest game of the year looms as the Irish face the #2-ranked Seminoles at Florida State this Saturday night.  Can the Irish win it?  Hell yes!...but only if Golson stops turning the ball over and the defense goes back to playing the way they did before Carolina came to town.  After that, it doesn’t get much easier as the Irish have to then face 2 currently-ranked Pac-12 teams in Arizona State and USC, as well as a pretty good Louisville team and a Navy team which has been challenging in recent years.  It’s possible that Notre Dame could lose one of these games and still make the 4-team playoff, but I like their chances better if they finish undefeated…clean up the mistakes of the last 3 games, and they can.  If not, they’ll lose a couple.  We shall see.

Team health is not bad for this stage of the game – it does suck that their defensive captain in safety Austin Collinsworth has had trouble staying healthy and will miss the next 4 games with a shoulder injury – this after he missed the first couple of games with a bad knee.  Last years’ leading tackler in Linebacker Jarrett Grace has also not been able to return from his leg injury from last year, but other than that, they seem healthy overall.

And last, there has FINALLY been some finality regarding the 5 players on academic suspension which I referred to in my recent “Shit or get off the Pot” blog, as such:

  • Cornerback KeiVarae Russell and d-lineman Ishaq Williams both will not play the rest of this season, but hope to be back next year. 
  • Safety Eliar Hardy has been invited to return to the team and hopes to return to practice after the Florida State game. 
  • Receiver DaVaris Daniels and linebacker Kendall Moore both Tweeted that they are “done” at Notre Dame.

So now, at least, we can start to close the book on that one. 

We’ll see how the last 6 games play out!  GO IRISH!!!

Sports Friday with Hal: NFL NOTES AND MORE
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes

 

Happy Friday!

 

I’m a busy bee and have been reduced to my old “Lurker” status here as I check in for a quick read. Like the great Steve Miller sings, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future”

 

 

So the New England Patriots are playing their division rival New York Jets in a monsoon on Thursday night so I will have this posted and ready to go before 8:30PM. A lot of fun storylines with talk of Darrelle Revis playing some wide receiver? Practice squad running back Jonas Gray stepping into the New England backfield? Jets tight end Jace Amaro finally putting together a good game last week.

 

STORY OF THE WEEK:

The best storyline is the the Bill Parcells book set to be released in a few weeks and news of the advance copy having plenty of juicy details about the divorce of Parcells-Belichick. Since the divorce--don’t forget--Parcells won nothing while Belichick won three Super Bowls and went to five.

 

That said, going back twenty years to what football in New England was pre-Parcells and Drew Bledsoe is almost comical. Whenever the team found the smallest measure of success, they found a way to ruin it in spectacular fashion. The Lisa Olsen Scandal. The Cocaine Scandal post getting Super Bowl shuffled in 1986. General Manager Pat Sullivan getting his ass kicked by Matt Millen and Howie Long after he taunted them after the Patriots upset the Raiders in the playoffs in ‘86. Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour failure nearly bankrupting the team owners. The debacle of drafting quarterback Tony Eason over Dan Marino. Steve Grogan, John Hannah, and Steve Nelson playing so many years for so many bad teams. Trading away the draft picks that became Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Cortez Kennedy. Head coach Chuck Fairbanks bailing on the team. Roughing the passer against Oakland in 1976. This list goes on and on and on and on and on. I am sure the Northeast Gabbers can add about 20 more without taxing their brains.

 

The Patriots owe a debt of gratitude to Parcells for sure, but kudos to Belichick for getting out from “Big Bill’s” shadow. Belichick has hinted at how he hated being linked to Parcells when he saw him as a defensive assistant coach who got the lucky break of taking on the Giants top position. Belichick always visibly reacted whenever a reporter made the mistake of referring to him as a Parcells protegee. Belichick really is a part of the Joe Collier coaching tree as Collier was the long-time defensive coach in Denver and where the “Orange Crush” 3-4 defense took root. Parcells was a Ray Perkins acolyte and Belichick was more established in his defensive philosophy prior to landing in New York. To lump Belichick into the Parcells family tree is really a stretch when you look at the differing styles and philosophies.

 

That said, I am really looking forward to Parcells’ book and gleaning a little more information about his ending in New England. Should be a fun read.

 

NFL NOTES:

 

I’ve been keeping my eyes on the AFC East as always as I write primarily about the Patriots, but in watching Buffalo the demise of C.J. Spiller has been eye-opening. While the benching of 2013 first-round draft pick quarterback E.J. Manuel has been the top story, the declining touches for Spiller has been shocking. He’s hit 15 carries just twice this season and against New England had just six carries after just ten against Detroit the week prior.

 

The offensive line in Buffalo is atrocious and Fred Jackson’s quick-decision running style is more conducive to toughing out yards after contact. Center Eric Wood is adequate and left tackle Cordy Glenn is excellent, but right tackle Seantrel Henderson and guards Erik Pears and Cyril Richardson are dreadful and not NFL starting quality.

 

Now, backup running back and former Philadelphia Eagle Bryce Brown is healthy at last and Spiller looks like the odd man out. Spiller is still effective in the return and passing game, and I believe the game tape does not lie: the problem is his poor blocking offensive line.

 

*

 

The Boston Hollywood Sports Guy returned to Grantland/ESPN this week as his three week suspension for criticizing of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Three weeks later and my life was no poorer not reading his “mailbag” or not listening to his podcast as I haven’t tuned in to that since probably 2007 a few weeks after it came out. Simmons reportedly was furious about the suspension but didn’t go on a public diatribe or anything.

 

On one hand, Simmons is the godfather to us all. Blogs were not even really a “thing” back in the nineties. Simmons actually is a good writer who was a bartender after not being able to break into the Boston sports reporting scene. Simmons started writing on AOL Digital City (ahh, the heady 90s go-go Internet days!) and had his own website: BostonSportsGuy.com. By 2001 he was onto the big time at ESPN. After a hiatus to join the Jimmy Kimmel show in Hollywood, he was back and soon had his site Grantland.com.

 

In the pre-ESPN days, I adored Simmons and his unique style of writing. Without him, would TSN have blogs? Would I have started my BostonSportPage.com blog in 2005? Would we be sitting around the Gab loving and sharing sports? Probably not. That said, he went from “Must Read” to “ehhh, whatever” in the past few years. It is hard to maintain momentum and there are a ton of imitators who have come and gone.

 

*

 

I was ecstatic to see Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll come out against the seven inactive players on game day. Currently, the NFL has a 53 man roster that receives full pay and counts against the salary. Randomly, the league has the team only be able to play 46 of the 53. They’re paying them but not playing them? Why?

 

Since I never heard a rational reason and having more healthy players able to contribute can limit teams using starters on special teams (Rob Gronkowski’s broken forearm in 2012 blocking on an extra point?) is a good thing, what the heck is the league doing? It seems ludicrous for teams to have to pay these players a full salary and sit them? Make it 46 players or keep it 53, but LET THEM PLAY.

 

*


Wow, got on a few tangents there. OK, folks, time for me to watch some Thursday Night Football. P.S. Kudos to IHM filling in superbly for the great O.H. here on Thursday. Be sure to swing by next door to check in with the always interesting, informative, and opinioned StorminNorman as well --->.

 

 

Have a great weekend!

 
Storminnorman's Sports Blog 10/17
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Royals MLB and a few other things.....

As I sat in the living room waiting ever so impatiently for my wife to hand me the laptop (because we are down to one) for the moment, I started remembering a few of the things I witnessed yesterday. Some things I never thought I would see happen again, and a few things I hope I never see again.

,

Honestly, did anyone see this coming at the beginning of the year? I surely didn't, but then again if you had told me the Royals would be waiting the winner of the St. Louis-San Fransisco series to play in their first World Series since 1985, I might have asked you what you were smoking......

But let's give the Royals their due. How many offensively challeged teams step up and perform at the level they have for 8 straight games? For what they lack offensively, they sure have made up for it with their pitching. Herrera, Davis and Holland, have been as close to automatic as any staff in baseball, and at the right time. 

But I don't really think the Royals would be in the position they are in right now, if it wasn't for their manager Ned Yost. Yost seems to be in tune with every situation during the game, and isn't afraid to yank his starter because he knows his bullpen is the best in baseball, hands down.......

Thank you Jeff for the pic, I thought I would use it one more time.......

Before I go out on a limb and crown the Royals champs, I remember a 3 years back when the Tigers disposed of the Yankees, and had to wait for the Giants to win their series. A week is a long time to wait to play, even though I heard it mentioned by the Royals that it would be good for the bully, because they were used every game. Good for the batters no, it's going to take them a couple games to get back in the groove, and like in 2012, it could be too late.....

Damn Giants up 2-1, Panik hit a home run.

And since I have left, Adams and Tony Cruz hit home runs, might be going back to St. Louis after all, but that's what I thought last night......

So I thought I would touch on a few more things, I figured out the difference between the first game played between the Bruins and Wings. The Bruins came out with that bit of nasty that the Wings don't have with all the young players on their roster. The Bruins were able to basically bully the Wings just like they did in the first round of the playoffs last year. The Wings still lack the toughness to compete in the rough and tumble Eastern Conference, and unless they add a little toughness their playoff streak might end. Oh hell what am I thinking, there are only a few really good teams in the East and Detroit is one of them....

Chara looked the the middle school bully trying to take lunch money from the Wings players, but then again that's one of the reasons I love watching him play, he is so damn nasty.

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to turn to the left and check out what Hal has to say about football...

 

 

Rivalry Series: LSU-Kentucky
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA KENTUCKY LSU

Series facts

LSU leads, 39-16-1
In Baton Rouge, LSU leads, 23-5-1
In Lexington, LSU leads, 16-11

Currently, LSU has won three in a row at home and five of six in the series overall. Also, in three of the last five and four of the last eight games in the series, four points or fewer separated the two teams in regulation.

Longest home/away streaks
Home winning streak – LSU, 12 games, 1955-1975
Home unbeaten streak – LSU, 13 games, 1953-1975
Road winning streak – LSU, 5 games, 1978-1986

Kentucky won two in a row at home 3 times, 1954-6, 1974-6, and 1993-5. The Wildcats never won consecutive games in Baton Rouge.

Highest-scoring games:
LSU 63, @Kentucky 28, 1997
@Kentucky 43, LSU 37 (3 OT), 2007
Kentucky 39, @LSU 36, 1998
LSU 33, @Kentucky 30, 2002
LSU 29, @Kentucky 25, 2001

Lowest-scoring games:
@Kentucky 3, LSU 0, 1960
LSU 7, @Kentucky 0, 1962
LSU 9, @Kentucky 0, 1959
@LSU 10, Kentucky 0, 1972 and 1985

Largest margins of victory:
@LSU 49, Kentucky 0, 2006
@LSU 34, Kentucky 0, 2000
LSU 30, @Kentucky 0, 1966
LSU 37, @Kentucky 10, 1969
@LSU 41, Kentucky 14, 1996
LSU 34, @Kentucky 7, 1952

Largest Kentucky wins over LSU:
Kentucky 33, @LSU 13, 1977
Kentucky 19, @LSU 0, 1949


Historical Narrative (skip to the last section for recent games)

I mentioned in the last blog that I had done this same basic blog before on TSN. I believe that blog was done before the 2007 game. That will be one of three specific games I’ll talk about in detail, but first I just wanted to cover the major developments in the history of the rivalry.

Before the SEC went to the 5-1-2 scheduling system (I’ll explain) in 2003, LSU had played Kentucky in 51 consecutive seasons. There were only two games before that streak began, but I suspect the annual nature of the game was because neither team had particularly clear rivals in the SEC. Kentucky’s closest rival is Tennessee, but the Vols have bigger rivalries with both Vanderbilt and Alabama.

That LSU-Kentucky streak of games began in the waning days of Tulane’s membership in the SEC. The only other must-play conference rivals for LSU were Mississippi St. and Ole Miss, at that time the only SEC schools in neighboring states. Florida andAlabama didn’t become annual series for LSU until 20 years later.

The head coach of Kentucky the first time the Wildcats played LSU was none other than Bear Bryant, who always seemed to give the Tigers trouble. His teams shut out the Tigers the first two times he faced them, before LSU beat Kentucky in his second-to-last season there and tied them in his last.

Bryant’s successor had three decent years after he left (I guess until the talent dried up), and the Wildcats beat the Tigers two of the next three seasons to go out to a 4-2-1 series lead in 1956.

The 1950s were not particularly good for LSU until 1958 though. LSU was #1 again for most of 1959, so they beat Kentucky for the third straight time that year. Kentucky got one back in 1960 (both teams were barely above .500 that season) but then lost the next 13 games in a row in the series. The Tigers have had a commanding lead in the series since then.

LSU had a winning record every year during that time, but Kentucky only had one.

The Wildcats won three out of four from 1974 to 1977, but the Tigers lost 4 games or more in each of those years. Kentucky also had a little bit of a revival during that time, building up to a 10-1 season in 1977.

Ten of the next 11 were won by LSU. while Kentucky went back into the pattern of having a losing record almost every year (although not as badly). The Wildcats beat the Tigers during one of only two winning records over that period, 1983, one of the worst LSU seasons since that 1958 national championship.

LSU’s next 4-7 season was in 1989, and that was the next loss to Kentucky (who had a relatively good 6-5 season). The following loss to Kentucky was in the 1992, the worst LSU season since 1910.

Speaking of the early ’90s, Bear Bryant wasn’t the only mutual coach between Alabama and Kentucky. I also mentioned Bill Curry in my Alabama rivalry post:

“LSU continued its losing ways almost throughout Curry’s tenure at Kentucky, but the Wildcats didn’t fare much better. 1992 and 1994 were probably the sorriest match-ups during that period. 1992 was Curry’s only win with the Cats in Baton Rouge, but LSU would finish 2-9 and Kentucky would finish 4-7. In 1994, Kentucky’s lone win of the season was over Louisville in the opener. They still managed to make it close against LSU, losing 17-13 in Baton Rouge. LSU finished 4-7.

“In 1993, Curry’s most successful season at Kentucky (6-6, with a loss to Clemson in the Peach Bowl), Kentucky won 35-17

“Although LSU would finish 7-4-1 in 1995, the Tigers lost to Kentucky, who would finish 4-7, anyway. LSU made the unfortunate decision to wear purple pants for the game. And rather than causing Kentucky to avert its eyes for the entire contest, it seemed to make the Tigers self-conscious. I don’t think LSU has worn purple pants since. The final was 24-16 in Lexington. Curry had another 4-7 campaign in his final year, but LSU, on its way to a 10-2 record, had no problem with the Cats this time, 41-14.”

Kentucky would go 5-3 against LSU from 1992 to 1999. The only one that was really an upset in hindsight was in 1995. LSU had its first bowl season since 1988, but they struggled on the road that year, going 1-3-1, the only win coming against a Mississippi St. team that would go 3-8. Kentucky only went 4-7 that season, but they did get the Tigers at home.

The Tigers have won 5 of 6 since then, but there was one major upset (the one loss) and a close call in another. 2002 wouldn’t have been a huge upset since that wasn’t a very good LSU season (thankfully 8-4 isn’t what LSU fans call a good season these days), but it was the second consecutive year that the Tigers won in the last 15 seconds. I will detail those three games below.

LSU-UK into the New Millenium

I mentioned the setback in 1995 above. The next four years had expected results based on the strengths of the teams. In 2000, after two losing seasons, a new coach named Nick Saban came to town. He had mixed results his first year, which included an early loss to UAB and a characteristic blowout loss at the hands of Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators.

Kentucky proved to be no problem that year (the Wildcats had two non-conference wins but would go winless in the SEC), but the following two seasons would be adventures.

In 2001, Kentucky started similarly: 1-4 with a win over Ball St. LSU had two convincing wins over non-conference opponents, followed by setbacks against Tennessee (in a close game on the road) and Florida (another blowout).

A loss at Kentucky would have meant an 0-3 start in conference and almost no chance of winning the sec west. (At this time, two losses to sec east teams were not fatal.)

LSU started out reasonably well, taking a 19-3 lead at one point and a 22-10 lead into the half. The tigers had scored in four of their first five possessions. The only failure to score had been a missed field goal. The two teams had exchanged interceptions late in the first half, but there was no major cause for concern.

Kentucky must have made some adjustments on defense though, because LSU just could not move the ball down the field in the second half. It was still 22-10 going into the final third of the game, so at less the LSU defense had kept the lead.

Not for long though. Kentucky, led by Jared Lorenzen, would engineer touchdown drives on consecutive possessions (he threw for 70 yards in the first drive alone) while all LSU could manage was a series of punts.

After the go-ahead Kentucky touchdown with just over 8 minutes remaining, LSU still could not get a drive going, giving the ball back to the Wildcats with about 7 minutes left. Kentucky, with a three-point lead, drove to the LSU 44 before their drive stalled with 3 1/2 minutes to go. With the lead and the defense playing well, the Kentucky coach Guy Morriss stayed conservative and opted to punt on 4th and 1.

Kentucky quickly got LSU into a 3rd and 4 situation, but LSU quarterback Rohan Davey all of a sudden had an answer to Lorenzen. Instead of throwing for 30 yards at once, he threw for shorter distances, but 14 yards on the third-down play was more than enough.

After three more passes and two more first downs, LSU was in reasonable scoring position at the Kentucky 27. On the next play, Davey was sacked for a loss of 9 and it looked like the Tigers might not even be able to tie the game. He then completed a pass to his favorite target Michael Clayton for 18 yards, bringing up a third and 1. A pass to Clayton worked on the last third and less-than-5, so that’s what they did again, this time for 8 yards, bringing up a first and goal at the 10.

Davey nearly ran it all the way in on first down, but that would have been scoring too soon, so he waited until third and six (after an illegal procedure and threw to Clayton yet again for the go-ahead score with 13 seconds left.

After beating Vanderbilt to end its 15-game SEC losing streak, Kentucky would once again finish with only two wins.

LSU was still inconsistent the next two weeks: a blowout win over a weak Mississippi St. team, followed by a disappointing home loss to Ole Miss, but then something happened the following week at Tuscaloosa. LSU beat a comparable Alabama team by 14 and would not lose again.

The Tigers snuck into the SEC championship game, where they knocked off #2 Tennessee. Then LSU beat Illinois to finish 10-3 and win its first Sugar Bowl since 1967 That was an improvement of seven wins over two seasons before. But none of it likely would have happened has Kentucky won that game.

LSU would learn pretty quickly in 2002that you don’t just magically keep your spot in the pecking order. The Tigers lost their opener at Virginia tech convincingly. Then, the week before the Kentucky game, LSU was walloped by Auburn, 31-7.

Kentucky, however, was much-improved and entered the game with 6-3 record, only two wins shy of their highest season win total since 1984. Also, they were to play LSU at home.

The Tigers seemed to recover well to the loss to Auburn and played reasonably well on both sides of the ball. LSU’s offense wasn’t the greatest, but it went up 21-7 at the beginning of the third quarter, which isn’t bad against a winning team on the road.

The Tigers still held onto to 24-14 lead with around 12 minutes left. Kentucky was driving in LSU territory and faced a fourth and 1. Not knowing how many chances they would get (and likely not wanting to repeat the mistake of 2001), Morriss went for it.

Kentucky’s go-to back Artose Pinner easily ran for the first down, and this put the Wildcats within easy striking distance for Lorenzen, who completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to put Kentucky within 4. For some reason, they unsuccessfully tried for two.

The craziness was only beginning. When LSU went three and out and punted, the Wildcat returner fumbled, allowing the Tigers to take over at the Kentucky 19.

LSU got the ball to the two, but played it safe with a 19-yard field goal to go back up 7.

Aided by three different first downs resulting from penalties, Kentucky drove right down the field for the tie with 2:24 to go.

LSU then went backwards in its next possession and punted. A 21-yard punt return and face ask penalty for good measure put Kentucky back in scoring position.

Another LSU penalty made it just a 29-yard attempt, which gave Kentucky the lead with just 11 seconds left.

The Tigers took over at their own 13, and then seemingly in an effort to delay the inevitable, got a delay-of-game penalty.

Randall completed a modest 17-yard pass to Clayton, and everyone thought it was over. It wasn’t over on the clock, but still, that’s not good field position for any type of scoring play. If you haven’t seen what happens next, just watch the video at the beginning of this blog.

Kentucky didn’t play LSU again until 2006. The Wildcats were having another fairly good season and actually would win 8 games this time (new {from LSU’s perspective} head coach Rich Brooks would lead the Wildcats to four consecutive bowl games starting in 2006), but they had to travel to LSU and were coming off a tough loss to South Carolina. LSU had lost on the road to a very good Florida team (which would eventually beat Ohio St. for the BCS championship). I guess they had opposite reactions to losses, because LSU seemed hungry for blood, and Kentucky seemed to be looking forward to its bye week. The Tigers absolutely destroyed the Wildcats, 49-0, and would not lose another game that year. In fact, they would not lose again before their trip to Kentucky in 2007

The winning streak had pushed LSU to a #1 ranking, which they had not held in the regular season since 1959 when the Tigers lost by a single point at Tennessee.

Even though no players and few (if any) coaches were in common, the game followed a similar pattern to 2001 and 2002. Kentucky did score first, but LSU would go up 17-7 in the first half and 27-14 with 3:49 to go in the third quarter.

The Wildcats would score almost immediately afterward. Led by QB Andre Woodson, UK did not even face a third down on the touchdown drive.

LSU had to punt on the next possession, but they nearly had a three-and-out defensively on Kentucky’s next set of downs. The Tigers were whistled for a pass interference that kept the drive going. The Wildcats would eventually reduce the margin to three points with just under 8 minutes to play in regulation.

Two plays later, LSU QB Matt Flynn threw an interception way downfield, setting up the Wildcats at their own 37.

After an incompletion on first down, the tired Tiger defense gave up passes of 11 and 35 yards. Kentucky tried to run down he clock a bit before kicking the tying field goal.

LSU got the ball back with time for a winning drive, but it took 2:45 just to get to the Kentucky 40. Colt David was a good kicker with the Tigers, but 57 yards was a bit out of his range, so the game went to overtime.

The Wildcats got the first possession, and the LSU defense shot itself in the foot again, it would have been second and 15 from the 30, but a roughing the passer penalty gave Kentucky a first down at the 15. Kentucky later faced a third and 8, but Woodson completed a 12-yard pass, which led to the touchdown.

The Tigers had little trouble responding. It took just four plays to find the end zone, and LSU didn’t even face a third down.

The next LSU offensive possession did not go so smoothly. The Tigers faced third and 19 after a penalty and a sack, but got back into comfortable field goal range. The Wildcats responded with a three-and-out followed by their own field goal, but then the LSU defense was expected to hold them again and could not.

Actually, holding was the problem. After a Woodson incomplete pass on third and goal from the 6, the Tigers were whistled for a holding penalty. This allowed Kentucky a new set of downs, which led to the touchdown.

LSU ran four straight running plays, and the game ended about a yard short of the first.

No accidental Gatorade baths this time, Kentucky fans stormed he field and stayed there awhile. Maybe the team enjoyed it a bit too much,as they would lose four of the next five games. LSU would win 6 of the next 7 (the only loss to Arkansas, another team that would finish 8-5, also in here overtimes) on the way to it’s second BCS championship.

In 2011, Kentucky, which was in the midst of a losing season under Brooks’ successor Joker Philips, did not spoil LSU’s next serious attempt at an undefeated season.

(LSU had started 7-0 in 2010, but that was before Alabama, Auburn, or Arkansas, the only eventual 10-game winners the Tigers would face that season.)

LSU’s return trip to Lexington should have been in 2012, but that was Missouri’s and Texas A&M’s first year in the SEC, so it went to a 6-1-1 rotation, which means 6 divisional games (as a result of the seventh team being added to each division), one permanent opponent, and one rotating opponent. So rather than 2 spots rotating among five teams in that last number, one spot rotates among six teams. Back-to-back games are not done under the new system, but there is still some uncertainty over the long-term scheduling format, so they didn’t insist that LSU and Kentucky wait until 5 years had passed. That may happen before the next game, however.

Other “Rivalry Series” entries:

Team List:
Alabama (Pregames: 2011, 2013)
Arkansas
Auburn (2010 post-game)
Florida
Georgia
Mississippi St.
Ole Miss
(Steve Spurrier and) South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas A&M

Special editions:
Pac-12

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