7:00 PM ET, October 8, 2005
Vanderbilt Stadium, NASHVILLE, TN
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- LSU coach Les Miles can get used to having a "normal" game week.
The first-year coach and his Tigers had their first game week this season that was not disrupted because of hurricanes and wound up with a game that was anything but regular until the final quarter.
JaMarcus Russell threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns and Joseph Addai ran for 102 yards and a TD as No. 11 LSU beat Vanderbilt 34-6 on Saturday night, keeping the Commodores from their best start since 1950.
"I feel so well rested it's unbelievable," Miles said. "I can't wait to get into a routine."
LSU rolled up 479 yards of offense but struggled with four turnovers, a variety of stumbles and bad bounces that included a 46-yard field-goal attempt off the left upright and another wide right. But the Tigers put away the victory with 25 unanswered points, 22 of those in the fourth quarter.
"We understood that we were our own worst enemy," Miles said.
The Tigers (3-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) limited the league's second-best offense to 138 yards, sacked Jay Cutler five times, intercepted him twice and knocked him down early and often. Vanderbilt had been averaging 442.6 yards.
"We played pretty hard on defense for at least the first three quarters, but when you can't get anything going offensively, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "Things got away from us at the end, and a close game turned into a laugher."
The Commodores (4-2, 2-1) had not started 5-1 or 3-0 in the SEC since 1950. A victory would have kept the league's perennial cellar dweller in a tie with No. 5 Georgia atop the SEC Eastern Division, but Vanderbilt has not upset a team ranked as high as No. 11 since 1974.
This was the Tigers' first game this season that hadn't been postponed, moved, delayed or played on a short week because of either Hurricane Katrina or Rita.
"The whole year we've been facing adversity," Addai said. "Just getting back to a regular week is going to be really good for us to just do what we have to do to get better as a team."
LSU had a full week to prepare and led only 9-6 late in the third quarter despite having half the crowd wearing purple.
The Tigers finally wore down Vanderbilt's defense and started putting the victory away with Chris Jackson's 36-yard field goal with 2:29 left in the third for a 12-6 lead. Addai capped a 61-yard drive with a 2-yard run for a 20-6 lead early in the fourth, and then Russell tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Early Doucet for a 27-6 lead off a 65-yard drive.
Ali Highsmith capped the scoring by picking up a fumble and running in from 22 yards. He said all the pressure on Cutler was the key.
"We knew to win the game we had to rattle him, so he would be out of his game. Once we got into his head with all the pressure, we knew we got to him because he looked frustrated," Highsmith said.
Russell finished 21-of-32 with an interception and a fumble.
Cutler was 11-of-32 for 113 yards.
LSU opened the game with Russell throwing the ball almost better than he did last week in completing 21-of-24 against Mississippi State. He drove the Tigers down the field, going 3-of-4 for 77 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe.
When Chase Pittman sacked Cutler in the end zone on Vanderbilt's second possession for a 9-0 lead, it looked as if LSU was well on its way to its fifth straight victory in the series.
But the Tigers turned the ball over three times in the first half, the first by David Jones after a catch. Bryant Hahnfeldt kicked a 36-yard field goal to pull the Commodores within 9-3. He added a career-long 48-yarder early in the third that made it 9-6.
Even when the Tigers had chances to score early, nothing went right.
Chris Jackson's 47-yard field-goal attempt late in the second quarter bounced off the left upright. LaRon Landry gave him another chance by intercepting a Cutler pass with 18 seconds left. But Jackson's kick went wide left.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Joseph Addai capped a 61-yard drive with a 2-yard run for a 20-6 lead early in the fourth quarter and the Tigers cruised from there.
Gameball goes to... LSU QB JaMarcus Russell, who threw for 285 yards and two TDs.
Stat of the game... 2: The number of wins Vandy needs to be bowl-eligible (it would be its first bowl since 1982), but it won't be easy as the 'Dores still face Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-16||2-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-1|
|TD||12:27||DWAYNE BOWE 30 YD PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL (COLT DAVID KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|S||5:33||CHASE PITTMAN SAFETY||9||0|
|FG||3:37||BRYANT HAHNFELDT 36 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 1 yards.
|FG||11:36||BRYANT HAHNFELDT 48 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 5 yards.
|FG||2:29||CHRIS JACKSON 36 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 17 yards.
|TD||12:32||JOSEPH ADDAI 2 YD RUN (EARLY DOUCET III 2PT PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 61 yards.
|TD||7:42||EARLY DOUCET III 8 YD PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL (COLT DAVID KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||4:25||ALI HIGHSMITH 22 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (COLT DAVID KICK)||34||6|