By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Les Miles predicted that Jordan Jefferson's return would not be disruptive and, if anything, would
give LSU more ways to move the ball. So far, so good.
Jefferson scored on his first play back from suspension, cornerback Tyrann Mathieu scored after setting an LSU record for career forced fumbles, and the No. 1 Tigers methodically defeated Kentucky 35-7 on Saturday.
Jefferson was reinstated this week after a grand jury reduced charges the quarterback faces in connection with a bar fight to a
misdemeanor. Jarrett Lee remained the starter.
LSU coach Les Miles inserted Jefferson on an early fourth-and-goal, and he dove over the goal line from the 1 to give the Tigers (5-0, 2-0 SEC) a 7-0 lead. Lee later hit Odell Beckham Jr. for a 51-yard score, their second TD connection of more than 50 yards in two games.
Kentucky (2-3, 0-2) did not threaten to score until LSU led 35-0. Wildcats starter Morgan Newton missed on his first nine throws and completed only 2 of 11 passes in the first half, when he was sacked three times.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips gave freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith a chance in the second half, but Smith fared even worse, completing only one of five attempts and turning the ball over when he was flattened by a swarm of Tigers.
Mathieu got there first and swatted the ball loose just as several LSU defenders arrived and steamrolled Smith, who lay face-down while Mathieu scooped up the ball and returned it 23 yards to give LSU a 28-0 lead. That was the third forced fumble this season for Mathieu, a true sophomore, and the second he had returned for a score.
The player LSU fans call "honey badger," after the popular YouTube clip featuring the small but ferocious animal, later forced another
fumble, the ninth of his career, two more than the previous school
LSU's defense registered five sacks, with defensive end Sam Montgomery in on two of them. Although LSU dominated, the Tigers' offense sputtered intermittently. Lee completed 8 of 21 passes for 169 yards and one TD.
Beckham, who scored on a 52-yard reception against West Virginia
last week, was Lee's top target against the Wildcats, catching
three passes for 72 yards. LSU gained 179 yards on the ground, led by sophomore Alfred Blue's 72 yards.
Blue scored once on a 1-yard run that made it 21-0 in the third quarter, capping a drive sustained by Russell Shepard's acrobatic third-down catch along the sideline. Later, freshman Terrence Magee scored his first career touchdown, also on a 1-yard run.
Kentucky did not score until Newton hit Matt Roark with a 4-yard
pass with 6:09 left to play. The Tigers struggled to move the ball for much of the first half, when leading running back Spencer Ware came out of the game after only five carries.
He did not appear seriously hurt as trainers stretched his left leg, but he did not return. Running back Michael Ford, who leads the team in touchdowns, also saw only limited action as Miles decided to go more to Blue and Magee.
LSU opened the scoring on its second drive, when Rueben Randle
outleaped double coverage to grab 37-yard pass from Lee to the
Kentucky 5, setting up the score by Jefferson, who heard a few boos
when he first ran onto the field. Those boos were soon drowned out
by cheers when Jefferson scored, and he was not booed again.
Jefferson did not attempt a pass. He rushed four times for 29
yards. The Tigers extended their lead to 14-0 when Lee hit Beckham on a crossing route on third-and-10.
Beckham, a true freshman, spun up field after the catch, then broke several tackles as he cut all the way back across the field for a stunning score.