No. 1 LSU opened as 43.5-point favorites against Arkansas, making the Tigers the largest favorite in Southeastern Conference history since 1980. LSU failed to cover, but the Tigers (11-0, 7-0 SEC) won 56-20, clinching the SEC Western Division for ninth time in school history and the first time since 2011.
With the win LSU will play SEC Eastern Division champions Georgia (10-1, 7-1 SEC) in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 7 in Atlanta. LSU is 4-1 in the SEC Championship Game, defeating Tennessee in 2001 and 2007 and Georgia in 2003 and 2011. LSU’s lone loss came at the hands of Georgia in 2005.
While fans would think LSU would be excited about clinching the division, there was little enthusiasm from the locker room. A massive trophy given to the winner of LSU and Arkansas, The Golden Boot, was left out on the field by LSU after its win.
“There’s was not going to be too much of a celebration to beat Arkansas,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron. “They haven’t beaten anybody in a long time. We were supposed to win that football game, and it’s on to Texas A&M.
“There’s a mindset of this football team. We have a goal. The goal next week is to beat Texas A&M. That’s going to be one at a time. We know where we want to go, but we don’t talk about it. There’ll be time to celebrate, that won’t be now.”
LSU led the Razorbacks 7-6 halfway through the second quarter, but the Tigers rattled off 49 straight points, starting with a 2-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Tyrion Davis-Price with 7:48 remaining in the second quarter.
The offensive avalanche led to a night of benchmark performances for LSU. Senior quarterback Joe Burrow moved into third all-time on the school’s passing yards list (6,908) and cracked 4,000 yards this season, becoming the fourth SEC quarterback to do so.
Burrow ended the night 23-of-28 passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns. He has 4,014 yards passing and 41 touchdown passes and an added 79 rushes for 239 yards and three touchdowns through 11 games this season.
Junior tight end Thaddeus Moss set the record for catches in a season by a LSU tight end with 36, breaking a record set by Malcolm Scott in 1981 and Mitch Andrews in 1985.
Junior running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire may have had the biggest night. He rushed six times for 188 yards with three touchdowns and caught seven passes for 65 yards. He became the 21st LSU running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
He also helped LSU become the first SEC school with a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers.
Edwards-Helaire had touchdown runs of 27, 26 and 89 yards. Elsewhere offensively, sophomore Ja’Marr Chase led LSU in receiving with six catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tigers finished with 612 total yards of offense compared to Arkansas’ 304 yards of offense.
Defensively, junior safety JaCoby Stevens finished with three sacks, which makes him LSU’s leader in that category this season with five total. Junior linebacker Jacob Phillips led all players with 12 tackles and 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
LSU closes out the regular season on Nov. 30 against Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3 SEC) in Tiger Stadium. Last season the Aggies defeated LSU 74-72 in seven overtimes, tying a college football record for the longest game in history.
The win was Texas A&M’s first win over LSU since 1994 and its first win over the Tigers since joining the SEC in 2012. The officials made multiple highly-debated calls that extended the game and prevented LSU from winning. The Tigers haven’t forgotten.
Orgeron said “it’s going to be on” when the Aggies visit Tiger Stadium, and that he will never forget what happened in College Station last season.
“That’s over,” Orgeron said. “There was nothing we could do at the end of the game. We felt helpless, but there’s something we can do about it this week.”
Burrow, who carried the ball 29 times for 100 yards and three touchdowns and required multiple IVs immediately after the seven-overtime thriller, seemed more than eager to get another shot at Texas A&M.
When asked why he was so excited for the game, Burrow calmly dodged the question and took a sip of water before answering with a smirk on his face.
“Chance to go 12-0.”