KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Jarrett Lee threw two touchdown passes,
and Spencer Ware caught one and ran for another score as No. 1 LSU stayed unbeaten with another rout, 38-7 against Tennessee on
The win was the seventh straight by a double-digit margin for the Tigers (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) and marked the second
consecutive season they've swept their three SEC East foes. Matt Simms, making his first start of the season for Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) in place of the injured Tyler Bray, was 6 of 20 for 128 yards and two interceptions against one of the nation's best defenses.
It marked a departure in the series between the two teams in which three of the last four games have been decided by a touchdown
or less, including last year's bizarre finish in Baton Rouge when
LSU scored the winning touchdown after the game was extended by a
Tennessee penalty for too many men on the field.
Twice LSU started drives on Tennessee's side of the field, and both times the Tigers turned the field position into touchdowns. The Vols had crossed midfield when Simms, making his first start of the season, connected with Rajion Neal on a 38-yard pass that was ruled out of bounds but overturned on review.
On the next play, Simms aimed deep for Da'Rick Rogers but hit LSU's Morris Claiborne instead. Claiborne returned the interception 89 yards, but Zach Rogers caught up with him at the Tennessee 5.
It was LSU's longest non-scoring interception return ever and longest return overall since Greg Jackson's 100-yard return in 1988 against Mississippi State. On second down, Lee hit Rueben Randle for a 5-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 14:56 in the second quarter.
Tennessee started the next drive on its own 11 and went backward. Odell Beckham Jr. returned Michael Palardy's 42-yard punt to the Tennessee 36.
On third-and-11 at the Vols 13, Tennessee blitz and Lee lobbed a
screen pass to Spencer Ware, who went 13 yards for a score to give
LSU a 14-0 lead with 10:01 in the second quarter. The Tigers' Drew
Alleman tacked on an 18-yard field goal with 15 seconds before
Lee finished 10 of 14 for 115 yards, Jordan Jefferson had 73
yards rushing and a touchdown on 14 carries and Randle had 86 yards receiving and a touchdown. Michael Ford and Russell Shepard also ran for scores.
Aside from LSU's 99 yards on interception returns, the teams played almost evenly through the first half. The Vols kept from falling apart, even as Simms threw another interception midway through the second quarter.
Tennessee's defense held LSU after the pick, and the offense put together an 80-yard drive. Simms threw a 44-yard pass to Da'Rick Rogers, who dragged LSU's Tyrann Mathieu the last 10 yards of the play, and Tauren Poole covered 28 yards on seven plays before punching the ball in the end zone on a 2-yard run that cut the Tigers' lead to 14-7 with 2:24 before halftime.
But LSU's many weapons on both sides of the field got to be too
much for the Vols after halftime. LSU finished with 383 yards to
Tennessee's 239, picked up 13 more first downs and held the ball
over 16 minutes longer than the Vols.
Ware ran 1 yard for a touchdown to make it 24-7 with 7:53 in the
third quarter. The running game was a surprising bright spot for the Vols, who last week Bray to a broken thumb.
After losing a combined 29 yards in losses to Florida and Georgia, Tennessee gained 111 yards on the ground against the fourth best run defense in the nation in LSU, which entered the game limiting opponents to 69.2 yards on the ground.
LSU has now won four straight and five of the last six against Tennessee, which includes two victories at the SEC Championship.