LSU senior running back Terrence Magee started with a career-long kickoff return and finished his evening with two touchdown runs in the third quarter to spark the Tigers past Kentucky, 41-3, on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Magee tallied a career-best 220 all-purpose yards including 127 rushing on only nine carries, with scoring runs of 9 and 23 yards in the third quarter. The Franklinton native accounted for 121 of LSU's 131 yards of total offense in the opening stanza of the second half that gave LSU its final margin.
LSU (6-2, 2-2 SEC), which became bowl eligible for a school-record 15th-straight season, complimented Magee's big night with defense and special teams that took a firm hold of the game in the first 10 minutes and let loose.
"I think what is happening is this football team is coming together," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I think there is a want for all three phases to complement one another and play like we played tonight against some of our best opponents. I think the timing is right for that."
The Tigers' defense came out of the lockerroom firing to the ball in each half. LSU held Kentucky to 48 yards of offense in the first quarter and 17 in the third quarter.
Magee opened the game with a 49-yard kickoff return that setup a 1-yard touchdown run by Leonard Fournette, before Tre'Davious White returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown that put the Tigers ahead 17-0 with 5:47 remaining in the opening quarter.
LSU added 10 more points in the final 44 seconds of the first half to lead 27-3 at the break. A 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Anthony Jennings to wide receiver Travin Dural was followed by catching Kentucky off guard on the ensuing kickoff that the Tigers recovered behind the Wildcats front line. Colby Delahoussaye capped the half 35 seconds later with a 35-yard field goal.
The Tigers return to Tiger Stadium next Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT on ESPN, as No. 3-ranked Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC) comes to town undefeated for the first time since 1963.
Jennings started for the Tigers and played into the fourth quarter, completing 7-of-14 passes for 120 yards including the Dural touchdown. Freshman backup QB Brandon Harris entered late and ran once for eight yards.
Fournette and Jennings each added 40 rushing yards, while freshman Darrel Williams ran 10 times for 61 yards and Kenny Hilliard added 29.
LSU outgained Kentucky, 423-217, including 303-71 rushing. The Tigers were 7-of-13 on third down and averaged 6.4 yards per play.
The Tigers defense spent a good portion of the game in the Kentucky backfield, collecting eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage including two sacks. Linebacker Kendell Beckwith led the way with nine tackles, while safety Jamal Adams had eight. Defensive end Danielle Hunter batted down three passes at the line and had six tackles.
Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC), which entered Tiger Stadium with five wins for the first time in history, left with a loss for the 24th time in its past 28 visits. In its most recent four games in Baton Rouge, the Wildcats have now been outscored, 159-10.
Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towels was 19-of-36 passing for 146 yards and ran seven times for 16 yards. Mikel Horton led the Wildcats with 29 rushing yards on five carries, while Demarco Robinson had 52 receiving yards.
The Wildcats threw a bag of tricks at the Tigers - faking an onside kick, snapping directly to running backs, attempting to draw an offsides penalty on a field goal attempt, trying three fourth downs - but nothing worked against the improving LSU 11.
A week after allowing 115 punt return yards to Florida, LSU was much improved in all aspects of special teams. The Tigers gave up only one return for one yard, while punter Jamie Keehn averaged 44.2 yards in net punting with three fair catches and two inside the Kentucky 20-yard line. Including the touchdown, White had 114 yards in punt returns for the Tigers.