(Friday, November 25th)
Final Score: (1) LSU 41, (3) Arkansas 17
Baton Rouge, LA (Sports Network) - LSU faced its largest deficit of the season early in the second quarter, but the top-ranked Tigers scored 41 of the game's final 44 points to complete a perfect regular season.
Drew Alleman's 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter capped LSU's 41-17 victory over the third-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks.
With the victory, the Tigers (12-0, 8-0 SEC) recorded their first 12-0 season in school history and clinched a berth in the SEC title game next weekend against Eastern Division champion Georgia.
LSU used 286 rushing yards to reach the conference's championship game for the fifth time in school history and third time under head coach Les Miles.
Kenny Hilliard carried the ball 19 times for 102 yards and a score. Michael Ford added 96 yards on 11 carries.
Jordan Jefferson completed 18-of-29 passes for 208 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Tyler Wilson connected on 14-of-22 passes for 207 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Razorbacks (10-2, 6-2), who had a seven-game win streak snapped.
Arkansas played the game with a heavy heart following the tragic passing of redshirt freshman tight end Garrett Uekman, who died last Sunday.
After four punts to start the game, Arkansas took over at its own 38 with 5:18 to play in the first quarter. The visitors converted a trio of third downs on an 11-play, 62-yard scoring drive. Faced with a 3rd-and-6 from the LSU 29, Wilson scrambled to his left and found Greg Childs wide open in the flat. Childs' catch-and-run of 16 yards moved the ball to the 13. On the first play of the second stanza, Jarius Wright caught a pass over the middle of the field before finding the end zone.
The Razorbacks then came up with a big defensive play. Ford had the ball stripped away by Tramain Thomas. Alonzo Highsmith caught the ball in the air and sprinted 47 yards down the left sideline for a 14-0 lead.
"We had to keep our focus. We put ourselves behind like that," LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle said. "We just kept our focus, went out there and did the little things right that we were messing up and came out in victory."
Facing their largest deficit of the season, the Tigers responded with a 14- play, 77-yard scoring drive. On 3rd-and-6 from the Arkansas 16, Deangelo Peterson caught a six-yard pass for a fresh set of downs. Hilliard followed with runs of four and six yards, the last resulting in a touchdown with 5:15 left.
The Razorbacks went three-and-out and punted the ball on the ensuing possession. Tyrann Mathieu caught the punt and sprinted 92 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-14.
"I think the first momentum shift was Tyrann Mathieu's return," Miles said. "The defense, even in the early going, was in and around that quarterback (Wilson) a lot. The plays that he made scrambling out, the plays that he made under duress, and he did make some plays, it kind of told him that the pocket was not going to be a friendly place for him. Our guys were coming loose, and it spells a problem for a team that throws the ball as well as they do."
LSU made it 21 unanswered points after Dennis Johnson fumbled. Mathieu forced the fumble and the Tigers recovered at their own 34. The original call on the field had Johnson down before fumbling, but it was reversed upon review.
Kadron Boone and Randle caught passes of 17 and 18 yards, respectively, to move the ball to the 31. Randle added a 22-yard catch before Russell Shepard caught a nine-yard TD pass for a 21-14 lead with one minute remaining.
Thomas picked off Jefferson on the first possession of the second half. Cobi Hamilton's 60-yard catch put the Razorbacks in prime position to tie the game. But the visitors settled for a 29-yard Zach Hocker field goal to make it 21-17.
LSU responded with a field goal of its own. A defensive offside penalty gave the Tigers a fresh set of downs on 4th-and-1. Ford then ripped off a 49-yard run down the left sideline. But the home team had to settle for a 21-yard Alleman field goal with 2:14 left.
After forcing the Razorbacks to go three-and-out, Mathieu recorded a 16-yard punt return to give LSU the ball at the Arkansas 45. The Tigers kept the ball on the ground eight times during a nine-play drive. Spencer Ware capped the march with a seven-yard TD run to make it 31-17 with 11:04 to play.
Morris Claiborne then essentially put the game away by intercepting Wilson's pass at midfield.
"They did get to him, particularly in the second half," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "I think that caused him to not look down the field sometimes and certainly made a difference in the game."
Jefferson then ripped off a 48-yard TD run to make it 38-17. Alleman added a 37-yard field goal to account for the final margin.
LSU owns a 35-20-2 advantage in the all-time series with Arkansas...LSU has won 13 consecutive games dating back to last season, and has won its last 17 bouts at home...LSU recorded the school's first undefeated record in the regular season since going 11-0 (10-0 during regular season) in 1958.
11/25 20:06:01 ET