Arkansas LSU Score – Tyrann Mathieu answered the call for a game-turning play when LSU needed one most, and the top-ranked Tigers piled on from there.
Mathieu returned a punt 92 yards for a game-tying score and No.1 LSU punished third-ranked Arkansas with 286 yards rushing, wiping out a 14-point deficit with a 41-17 win Friday that secured a spot in the SEC Championship game.
“I could hear my teammates in my ear saying, “Man, we need you to go make a play,’ “Mathieu said. “I was able to help the momentum really go in our favor.
“You have no idea how bad I just wanted to go out there and make a big play for our team. I was fortunate enough to be able to do that.”
Kenny Hilliard, Spencer Ware and Jordan Jefferson all scored on the ground for LSU (12-0, 8-0 SEC), which is 12-0 for the first time and will play No. 13 Georgia next weekend in Atlanta.
A win over the Bulldogs would assure the Tigers of their third trip to the BCS title game in nine seasons. At this point, LSU might be able to get there even if it loses.
The rivalry game with Arkansas (10-2, 6-2) was billed as the biggest in Tiger Stadium since 1959, the last time two teams ranked in the top three clashed in Death Valley. Billy Cannon lifted No. 1 LSU to a 7-3 win over No. 3 Mississippi in that game with an 89-yard punt return for a score, so it seemed fitting that the Tigers would get a similar score against the Razorbacks.
“That was a huge turning point in the game,” Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino said.
“We were trying to get the ball punted to the sideline, but he miss-hit it a bit and punted it to the middle. … (Mathieu) made a great cut and made us miss at the point of attack. He made a great play.”
LSU trailed 14-7 when Mathieu fielded Dylan Breeding’s end-over-end kick at his own 8, started left, made a hard cut straight up field, then angled left again to break into the clear.
“It made the statement that that lead was not going to stand up,” LSU Coach Les Miles said. “Our defense was going to continue to play well and our offense was coming.”
Two plays after the pick, Jefferson ran 48 yards for his score on a quarterback draw that was wide open, making it 38-17.