Don’t look now, but Kentucky is a football school, too. Off to their best start since the early stages of the Cold War, Mark Stoops has it all clicking in Lexington. The 16th ranked Wildcats dominated this one, and their defense set the tone out of the gate, forcing a strip-sack fumble on Max Johnson on LSU’s opening drive, and they never looked back.
The first half, much like the game, was all ‘Cats. Will Levis looked much more comfortable, and he played a mistake-free half allowing the rushing attack to take over. LSU’s offense continually stalled (three punts, turnover on downs, and a fumble), and their defense was gashed on the ground over and over as they were habitually dominated in the trenches by Kentucky’s maulers up front.
Following a touchdown drive after an LSU fumble, Kentucky’s second drive resulted in an 11-yard touchdown pitch and catch from Will Levis to his favorite target Wan’Dale Robinson.
Wan’Dale continues to be one of the more dynamic playmakers in college football. Scott Frost had that dude playing running back, by the way.
The Wildcats would go into the half with that 14-0 lead, and their immediate drive out of the half had a similar result as Will Levis found the blue paint. Levis set up Kentucky first and goal with this spectacular run and spin cycle:
LSU found themselves in a deep hole at this point that they just couldn’t climb out of. Offensively, they looked lost. They’re among the worst rushing teams in the country as they have shifted entirely to the air raid, and when there’s no semblance of a passing attack like tonight, this offense is helpless. It took them until there were 11 minutes left in the game to find that downfield attack as Johnson found Malik Nabers for a 41-yard touchdown, but watching an offense that dumped balance out the window in preference for an average QB throwing 40-plus times is hard to watch.
LSU’s defense gave up more chunk plays than two sets of hands could cover, and it felt like they gave up following a turnover-on-downs, allowing Kentucky to go 56 yards for another score on just three plays. Levis found Jutahn McClain on a wheel route out of the backfield for a 25-yard touchdown, and it was all over in Lexington as they stretched the lead to 35-7.
Kentucky’s defense deserves a lot of credit for how well they played. Yes, LSU’s ineptitude offensively should be talked about a lot, but the ‘Cats pinned their ears back and got after Max Johnson, collapsing the pocket at will and forcing him into fast decision-making and forced throws, something he’s struggled with all season.
LSU tried to make it a game late, cutting the lead to 14 after an 11-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a second Tyrion Davis-Price touchdown, but they failed to recover the onside kick, setting Kentucky up with more than ideal field position. The following drive was just Chris Rodriguez Jr. repeatedly pounding the final nail into the coffin. Rodriguez carried the ball four times for 44 yards, burning LSU’s timeouts, and capping it off with an 18-yard touchdown run. LSU’s subsequent drive resulted in a turnover on downs, and this game was over.
Will Levis played his best game in weeks, completing 14 of his 17 attempts for 145 yards and three touchdowns, good enough for an impressive 12.1 adjusted yards per attempt. This team’s identity is its offensive line paving roads in the running game, and that was shown once again tonight. Both Rodriguez Jr. and Kavosiey Smoke cracked the 100-yard mark. Rodriguez Jr. ran 16 times for 147 yards and a score, and Smoke toted the rock 12 times for 104 yards. Levis also added 75 yards on the ground as the Wildcats ran for 7.3 yards a carry.
As for LSU, they look all out of sorts after blowing the game last week against Auburn. If it was evident then, it sure is now. This coaching staff needs to be blown up sky-high, and it starts with Coach O. The further we move away from that 2019 team, the more we see just how much of that team’s success came on the back of Joe Brady. Yes, Max Johnson is a major step down from Joe Burrow, but going full air raid with a quarterback who just isn’t that guy is a horrible misjudgment by a coaching staff that’s been making poor decisions for two years. Is getting rid of Orgeron the answer? It honestly just might be, but even if it isn’t, every coordinator needs to go. They need to rebuild that staff and actually get the right people in the right spots to actually build into a consistent, winning program. 2019 was in no way a fluke, but it was absolutely an anomaly for the Ed Orgeron era, and that era may be coming to an abrupt end.