There was no “Bluegrass Miracle” this time around. No premature Gatorade showers or answered hail mary’s, just a great football game between two great teams and Kentucky happened to pull out the victory. If you look at the stats you’d think LSU won the game. LSU rushed for 261 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry, they turned the ball over just once to Kentucky’s two turnovers, and they held the ball for almost 7 minutes more than Kentucky. So, Heisman hopeful Andre Woodson must have had a ridiculous game to lift the Wildcats over the top-ranked Tigers, right? Not exactly…Woodson put up decent numbers, but it was Kentucky’s offensive line that made this victory possible.
For Kentucky to win this game they had to establish the run and allow Woodson to make plays. Coming into this game, LSU was ranked fourth in rushing defense, allowing just 58.5 rushing yards per game. If Kentucky couldn’t establish the running game, LSU’s defense would be able to sit back and make life miserable for Woodson. But, Kentucky managed to gain 125 yards on the ground. While their three yards per carry average might not be impressive, it allowed them to have a balanced offensive game. Kentucky ran the ball 41 times and passed 38 times. This balanced offensive attack kept the LSU defense honest and allowed Andre Woodson time in the pocket.
Kentucky’s offensive line provided time and space for Woodson to work. LSU came into the game averaging over 3 sacks a game, but they never got to Woodson. Late in the 2nd quarter they didn’t even come close. With just over one minute remaining in the 2nd half, Woodson saw a hole open up that the announcers said a Mack truck could’ve gotten through, and he was able to jog 12 yards into the endzone. This protection allowed Woodson to be comfortable and confident in the pocket which in turn allowed him to gain 250 passing yards on an LSU defense that was allowing an average of under 140 pass yards per game.
Woodson deserves a lot of credit for this win. He had great timing for when he was under pressure and was able to get rid of the ball. No greater example was the game-winning touchdown in triple overtime, where he released the ball just before getting nailed in the back. But, Woodson should be singing the praise of that offensive line because any success he has is dependent on that strong front four who outplayed the number one defense in the nation and kept the Wildcats in the hunt for an SEC Championship.