NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The 19th-ranked LSU Tigers still have problems holding onto the ball. Against Vanderbilt, at least they showed they can finish.
Stevan Ridley scored a 65-yard touchdown and ran for 144 of his career-high 159 yards in the second half, and the Tigers never trailed in defeating Vanderbilt 27-3 Saturday night. It was the Tigers' seventh straight win in this series in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
The Tigers nearly blew a 30-10 lead a week ago against North Carolina before knocking down a couple of passes at the end to preserve a 30-24 victory. This time, they finished off this victory with 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Russell Shepard scored a 30-yard TD run to put the Tigers (2-0) ahead to stay, and Alfred Blue also had a TD. Josh Jasper kicked two field goals. The Tigers still had trouble holding onto the ball with three fumbles -- all recovered. But Jordan Jefferson was intercepted in the end zone in the third quarter.
LSU has won 11 of 12 against Vanderbilt, and the Tigers have held Vanderbilt (0-2) to 31 points combined in the past six games.
The Tigers came up with six sacks and held Vanderbilt to 135 yards total offense. The Tigers rolled up 280 of 392 yards offense on the ground and held the ball for nearly 34 minutes.
The Commodores did manage to keep Patrick Peterson, who set a school record with 257 yards on returns last week, in check. His longest punt return went for 6 yards and he finished with 8. He had a long kick return of 33 yards.
Vanderbilt came in having scored 21 points and rolled up 432 yards in an opening loss to Northwestern.
The Commodores could not get anything going and instead went backward. They finished with minus-7 yards rushing on 17 carries in the first half.
The Commodores wound up avoiding the shutout with a 23-yard field goal from Ryan Fowler to open the second half. Warren Norman broke loose for a 51-yard run to open the third quarter, and Craig Loston's personal foul for tackling him out of bounds gave Vandy first-and-goal at the 7. But LSU held.
Drake Nevis had 2 1/2 of LSU's six sacks to keep Larry Smith from finding a rhythm. He was replaced late by Jared Funk.
LSU finally started putting away this victory by driving 75 yards for Jasper's second field goal. Ryan St. Julien recovered a fumble by Norman, and Blue scored on a 6-yard run four plays later for a 20-3 lead with 10:28 left.
Ridley put the final touches on this win, breaking loose on a 65-yard TD run with 4:34 left. He finished with 17 carries.
LSU opened with three three-and-outs before finally putting together their first drive that got them their first first down of the game. They moved 81 yards in 12 plays with Shepard going around the left end and outrunning everyone to the end zone within the opening minute of the second quarter.
Barkevious Mingo sacked Smith at the Vanderbilt 2, setting up the Tigers for a 36-yard field goal by Jasper with 5:27 left in the second for a 10-0 lead.