Top-ranked Louisiana State University scored 21 unanswered points to erase a first-half deficit and beat the University of Arkansas 41-17, securing the school’s first undefeated regular season since 1958 and a spot in the Southeastern Conference title game next month.
The Tigers (12-0) trailed 14-0 in the second quarter, their largest deficit of the year, before rallying to a 21-14 halftime lead. The team finishes above the No. 3 Razorbacks and No. 2 Alabama in the SEC West division, and will play Georgia (9-2) in the conference title game on Dec. 3 in Atlanta.
LSU ran for 286 yards, with rushing touchdowns from quarterback Jordan Jefferson and running backs Kenny Hilliard and Spencer Ware. The team also had a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tyrann Mathieu and a passing score from Jefferson to wide receiver Russell Shepard.
“This team has it -- they come to these games to make big-time plays,” LSU coach Les Miles said in a televised interview after the game. “Down 14 they never flinched.”
LSU has won two Associated Press national championships -- in 1958, when it finished 11-0; and in 2007, when Miles led the team to a 12-2 record and a victory over Ohio State in the Bowl Championship Series title game. The Tigers also won the BCS title game in 2003.
Arkansas opened the scoring on the first play of the second quarter on a 13-yard pass from Tyler Wilson to Jarius Wright. The Razorbacks scored again less than three minutes later on a fumble returned 47 yards by linebacker Alonzo Highsmith.
LSU and Houston are the only undefeated teams in college football’s top division. The No. 8 Cougars beat Tulsa 48-16 today to finish the regular season 12-0 and will host the Conference USA title game on Dec. 3.
LSU has played in four SEC title games since 2001, with three victories in that span.
-- Editor: Rob Gloster