As the clock wound down in the 1998 Tennessee Vols’ blowout victory over the 2007 Kentucky Wildcats in Neyland Stadium, Phil Fulmer and staff were shifting their focus on fifth-seeded 2011 LSU, their opponent in the first game of the second round in the Finebaum Invitational.
“We have to play mistake-free football against the Tigers,” Fulmer said Tuesday to reporters.
That is, if this second-round matchup was in Knoxville.
The 2011 LSU Tigers, led by defensive standouts Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu and fresh off their victory over 12th-seeded 1998 Mississippi State in the opening round, destroyed the 1998 Volunteers in front of a raucous Tiger Stadium crowd 64-7.
“We mastered all facets of the game today,” a jubilant Les Miles said, “Kicking, defense, rushing, passing, the whole gamut.”
On offense, the Bayou Bengals posted 544 yards of total offense, highlighted by 323 yards on the ground. The bulk of those yards came from the legs of Michael Ford, who had two 40-plus TD runs in the first half as well as a 27-yard TD run in the third quarter to finish the day with 145 yards.
“Coach Miles just put the ball in my hands and I just ran,” an exhausted Ford said to reporters, “To me, it was like clockwork. Our o-line deserves the game ball for what they did for me and JJ.”
Jordan Jefferson added 54 yards rushing as well as an 18-for-26 passing performance netting 221 yards along with a 20-yard TD pass to Rueben Randle to make the score 27-0 going into the locker room.
“I felt we just did what we had to do to get the W,” Jefferson said.
On defense, 2011 LSU made Tee Martin crap in his pants as they forced the junior quarterback to cough up two interceptions. Adding insult to injury, Martin was sacked three times by the defense and would finish the day 9-of-22 with120 yards passing.
‘We couldn’t let Tee beat us,” defensive coordinator John Chavis.
The 2011 LSU Tigers await the winner of the 2009 Alabama-2003 Ole Miss matchup.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Miles said.