LSU leads its all-time series with the Kentucky Wildcats 40-16-1. The Tigers have won the last two in a row in the intermittent series; this being only the ninth time the two schools have met on the football field since 2000.
In fact, LSU has only lost one time to Big Blue during those last eight games, a six-point loss the last time the Tigers faced the Wildcats in Lexington back in 2007.
None of that will matter on Saturday. Fourteenth-ranked Kentucky will welcome Ed Orgeron’s 3-2 Tigers into Kroger Field looking to remain undefeated and coming off of a very impressive win over the Florida Gators.
LSU is on the rebound once again losing to Auburn last week. Once again, the Tigers have dealt with a lot a questions, with very few answers. Now, in the second game of a six-game stretch where they will face ranked conference foes, the Tigers are facing another season on the brink of collapse.
It hasn’t been all bad for LSU. Max Johnson ranks third in the SEC in passing yards (1469), and Kayshon Boutte has been LSU’s most consistent and dynamic offensive weapon. Boutte is tied for the conference lead in touchdowns (9) and is second in receiving yards (436).
Defensively, Damone Clark is the SEC’s top tackler, and BJ Ojulari’s five sacks tie him for second.
But the individual successes have not been able to keep LSU from team disappointment.
The defense is surrendering 23 points and 367 yards per game, placing LSU near the bottom in both categories.
Under new coordinator Jake Peetz, the offense has regressed from a year ago. After ranking fifth in the conference in total yardage in 2020, the Tigers have plummeted to 12th this year. The primary reasons have been the inconsistent play of the offensive line, the lack of a running game, and Peetz’s lack of rhythm as a play-caller.
The ultimate result has been the inability to sustain or complete drives.
Kentucky doesn’t appear to be the foe that will allow the Tigers to start running the football. The Tigers haven’t topped 100 yards on the ground once this season, and are averaging less than three yards per carry. LSU’s 70.6 yards per game is the third worst in the entire FBS.
Head Coach Ed Orgeron remains optimistic that the offense can become more balanced and find its rhythm.
“There are some things that are very fixable and we just need to settle down,” he said earlier this week. “Mostly just call the play and let it go. Not try to change the play. I think that’s where we’re getting into most of our problems. I think that it’s not that the guys are not working, it’s not that they’re not trying. I think they’re trying a little too hard so we need to simplify what we’re doing on offense and let our players play.”
The Wildcats rank third in total yards allowed among SEC defenses at 284.4 yards per game. Mark Stoops has his defense playing disciplined football.
If the Tigers are going to win this game, their defense will have to come up big. Kentucky has a -9 turnover differential this season. LSU has to generate some takeaways to limit a Kentucky offense that features the SEC’s leading rusher and its leading receiver.
Kentucky’s quarterback Will Levis has thrown six picks so far. LSU must avoid allowing him to have a breakout performance similar to the one Bo Nix had last weekend.
Orgeron needs to see improvement in both technique in tenacity from his defense. Against Kentucky, any lapses could prove very costly.
“Our defensive line getting penetration, our fits got to be exact, we’ve got to be able to use the right people in our fits,” he added. “We’ve got to know if we’re spilling or we’re squeezing and we’ve got to attack those blocks. We can’t sit at the line of scrimmage and let them win.”
At this stage, LSU can’t afford to let anyone win anything against them.
Who: LSU Tigers (3-2) vs 14. Kentucky Wildcats (5-0)
When: 6:30 p.m. CT
Where: Kroger Field, Lexington, Kentucky
Watch: SEC Network, ESPN+
Listen: 103.7 The Game (Pregame begins at 4:30 p.m.)