Accurate modeling of the transient structure of reacting diesel jets is important as transient features like autoignition, flame propagation, and flame stabilization have been shown to correlate with combustion efficiency and pollutant formation. In this work, results from Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) simulations of flame lift-off in diesel jets are examined to provide insight into the lift-off physics. The large eddy simulation (LES) technique is also used to computationally model a lifted jet flame at conditions representative of those encountered in diesel engines. An unsteady flamelet progress variable (UFPV) model is used as the turbulent combustion model in both RANS simulations and LES. In the model, a look-up table of reaction source terms is generated as a function of mixture fraction Z, stoichiometric scalar dissipation rate Xst, and progress variable Cst by solving the unsteady flamelet equations. In the present study, the progress variable is defined based on the sum of the major combustion products. A 37-species reduced chemical reaction mechanism for n-heptane is used to generate the UFPV libraries. The results show that ignition initiates at multiple points in the mixing layer around the jet, towards the edges of the jet, where the mixture fraction is rich, and the strain rates are within the ignition limits. These ignition kernels grow in time and merge to form a continuous flame front. The minimum axial distance from the orifice below which the local scalar dissipation rate does not favor ignition determines the lift-off height. This comparison shows that though there are noticeable differences in the transient phenomena, the ensemble-averaged liftoff heights predicted by both methods are quantitatively similar and the fundamental physics affecting the lift-off height do not change.