LEXINGTON, Ky. ? Five years later, LSU finally can feel Kentucky's pain.
Kentucky avenged one of the toughest losses in school history Saturday by rallying for a 43-37 triple-overtime victory over top-ranked LSU that could end up costing the Tigers a shot at the national title.
Andre' Woodson threw three touchdown passes and rushed for a fourth score as Kentucky erased a 13-point, second-half deficit to add one more chapter to the craziest college football season in recent memory.
"This is the best experience of my life," Kentucky wide receiver Dicky Lyons Jr. said. "That's why I came here, to play these guys. You couldn't have scripted it better for me."
The raucous celebration that erupted at Commonwealth Stadium after the game represented a stark contrast from the last time LSU played here. LSU pulled off the "Bluegrass Miracle" five years ago when Devery Henderson caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Randall as time expired to give the Tigers a 33-30 victory over Kentucky.
Guy Morriss ? Kentucky's coach at the time ? had been doused with a bucket of Gatorade in a premature celebration before the final play. Many Kentucky fans stormed the field and started tearing down a goal post on the opposite side of the field without realizing that LSU had won the game.
Hundreds of miles away, former Kentucky star Dicky Lyons Sr. watched that game in a country club full of LSU fans and got so disappointed in the finish that he broke the TV by throwing his phone at the screen. The Lyons family was considerably more pleased with Saturday's outcome, which - in its own way - was as crazy as the one in 2002.
The Wildcats considered their victory Saturday sweet redemption, though they weren't thinking about the 2002 game. They instead wanted to erase the memories of Kentucky's 49-0 loss at LSU last season.
Lyons and wide receiver Steve Johnson even wrote "49-0" on their wristbands Saturday so they wouldn't forget about the importance of this game. Johnson caught the 7-yard touchdown pass that put Kentucky ahead for good in the third overtime.
When the game finally ended, Johnson walked over to a bench on the LSU sideline to soak in the victory as fans continually walked up to shake his hand or pose for pictures alongside him.
KENTUCKY 43, LSU 37, 3 OT
Offensive player of the game
Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson threw two interceptions, but he also had three touchdown passes and rushed for a fourth score. Most important, he didn't get down on himself. He instead led Kentucky on touchdown drives after each of his two turnovers.
Defensive player of the game
Kentucky CB Trevard Lindley made seven solo tackles, broke up two passes and made an interception that helped spark the Wildcats' second-half comeback.
LSU led 27-24 in the fourth quarter when Brandon LaFell ran a deep route and appeared to get a step behind Lindley, but an underthrown pass from Matt Flynn allowed Lindley to recover and make a diving interception. Kentucky went on to make a game-tying field goal on its ensuing possession.
Surprise performance, part I
Kentucky freshman TB Derrick Locke. Injuries to Rafael Little and Tony Dixon forced Locke to play a feature role, and he responded by rushing for a team-high 64 yards on 20 carries to keep LSU's defense from focusing entirely on stopping the pass.
Surprise performance, part II
Kentucky TE T.C. Drake. He caught a pass off a deflection from LSU SS Craig Steltz for a 2-yard touchdown that opened the scoring. Drake's catch was the first of his career.
Surprise performance, part III
Kentucky's offensive line prevented LSU's top-ranked defense from recording a sack.
LSU coach Les Miles had fourth-down gambles pay off again on a couple of the Tigers' touchdown drives. His decision to attempt a 57-yard field goal instead of going for a "Hail Mary" on the final play of regulation also almost worked. Colt David hadn't made a field goal from longer than 45 yards out in his career, but his 57-yard attempt was long enough but sailed wide left.
What this means for Kentucky
The Wildcats don't control their destiny in the SEC East because of their loss to South Carolina last week, but they have plenty of reason to feel optimistic about their chances. Kentucky's home game with Florida next week just got much more interesting.
What this means for LSU
The Tigers can only hope this upset-filled season means some teams ahead of them will lose so they still can get a shot at the national title. First, they'd better beat Auburn next week, or the SEC West championship also might slip from their grasp.
This marks the first time in school history that Kentucky has beaten two top-10 teams at home in the same season. Louisville was the other ? Kentucky beat a top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll for the first time since a 27-24 triumph over Ole Miss in 1964. ? Kentucky has won six of its past seven games decided by 10 or fewer points. ? The crowd of 70,902 was the fourth-largest in Commonwealth Stadium history. ? Kentucky's 43 points represented its highest point total ever against LSU.
He should be getting accustomed to these types of celebrations. Johnson also caught the winning touchdown pass in a 40-34 victory over Louisville last month that set off a similar postgame party.
"Against Louisville, it was like a dream," said Johnson, who led all receivers with seven catches for 134 yards. "It was the first time it ever happened. Now it's like we're a team. We're here. There are no flukes at all. We're coming to ball every week."
Kentucky's fans certainly believe. The raucous celebration that followed Kentucky's victory reflected the giddy spirit of a fan base that just realized what this team could accomplish.
A few fans desperate for a souvenir tried sneaking into the tunnel with a first-down marker. Season-ticket holder Mike Murphy of Louisville, Ky., waved a handmade banner heralding Kentucky's 1950 SEC title that even included a picture of former Wildcats coach Bear Bryant's houndstooth hat.
"The Bear believed! The Bear believed!" Murphy screamed. "This is what it's all about. It can happen."
Kentucky, which lost at South Carolina last week, plays host to Florida next week and also has Georgia and Tennessee still remaining on the schedule. Still, an SEC title for Kentucky certainly can happen if the Wildcats continue getting extraordinary contributions from their star performers and cast of unlikely supporting players.
Woodson has carried the Wildcats all year and revealed his tenacity once again Saturday. Twice he threw interceptions that led to LSU scoring drives. Each time, he responded by leading Kentucky into the end zone on its next possession.
He finished 21-of-38, and his ability to audible into the right plays may have made the difference.
"I know the numbers aren't going to be great and all that stuff," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "But what he did out there tonight, if that isn't All-American-like, I don't know what is. He was the man out there tonight."
Most of the college football world already knows about Woodson, but a bunch of anonymous players also played vital roles in this improbable victory.
? True freshman tailback Derrick Locke was recruited by most schools either to play defensive back or run track. Even Kentucky pursued him primarily to run track before the football coaching staff got a look at his highlight tape. With a deep thigh bruise sidelining leading rusher Rafael Little all day and a hip flexor limiting Tony Dixon in the second half, Locke got nearly every important carry down the stretch. Locke, who is 5 feet 10 and 180 pounds, responded with a team-high 64 yards.
"Everybody wants to be a big-time player and thinks they're going to be one," Locke said. "But thinking it and doing it are two different things. I just got the attitude that I wanted to make something happen and show I'm not just a track runner. Don't look at my size and be discouraged. I can bring it, too."
? Middle linebacker Braxton Kelley entered the game in the third overtime because a shoulder injury was bothering Micah Johnson. Kelley responded by stopping Charles Scott for a 1-yard gain on fourth-and-2 from Kentucky's 17 to clinch the victory.
Kelley's tackle ended an amazing run of fourth-down success for LSU. The Tigers were 5-for-5 on fourth-down conversions in last week's 28-24 victory over Florida, then made successful fourth-down gambles on two of their touchdown drives Saturday.
"I knew he wasn't close to the first down," Kelley said. "And if he was close, it really didn't matter because everybody was on the field and I'm pretty sure they couldn't have measured it anyway."
? Lones Seiber went 3-of-3 on field-goal attempts and made a 43-yarder in the second overtime to keep the Wildcats' hopes alive. That's the same Seiber who missed three extra-point attempts earlier this season.
"He's gone from the doghouse in everybody's mind probably to the penthouse," Brooks said.
In the meantime, LSU has gone from college football's penthouse to a much more precarious position. The Tigers could spend the rest of the year thinking about missed opportunities in this game.
LSU led 24-14 and had third-and-8 from Kentucky's 13 late in the third quarter when tight end Keith Zinger got open in the left side of the end zone. Flynn's throw to Zinger arrived late ? after Kentucky's defense had recovered ? and resulted in an incompletion.
Instead of owning a 31-14 lead that might have seemed insurmountable, LSU settled for a 30-yard field goal that made it 27-14 and still gave Kentucky a fighting chance.
From that point, nothing went right for LSU.
LSU strong safety Craig Steltz was called for pass interference on a third-and-11 play to keep a Kentucky drive alive. Trevard Lindley picked off a Flynn pass to set up the game-tying field goal. Defensive end Tyson Jackson was called for roughing the passer on Kentucky's touchdown drive in the first overtime.
The Tigers also didn't get many breaks.
Defensive end Kirston Pittman and cornerback Chevis Jackson went out with injuries in the second half, after center Brett Helms got hurt earlier in the game. Colt David's attempt at a game-winning 57-yard field goal in the final play of regulation sailed barely wide left.
"We are shocked," LSU linebacker Darry Beckwith said. "Anytime you lose, it hurts."
The Wildcats' fans still remember the heartache of the Bluegrass Miracle. Kentucky's players couldn't forget the embarrassment of the 49-0 debacle. That's why they were only too happy to return the favor with a miracle comeback.
"I can go home for the rest of my life, go back to Louisiana and everyone will remember this game," Lyons Jr. said. "It was such a big year for LSU, and for us to be the defining moment of their undefeated season going away ? it's more than words can describe."