The Tigers spread out the front of the Arkansas defense, then hammered them in the soft spots. Over and over and over.
LSU ran it 29 times for 210 yards to maul the Razorbacks on the way to the SEC championship game.
"We knew their tendencies," Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette said. "They have one side that they get their splits with their guard and tackle wider and wider. You have to go with them. Then they come inside.
"We knew exactly where they were coming with the ball and we couldn't stop it. Give credit to them."
The Tigers covered the linemen and backs Kenny Hilliard and Michael Ford plowed past linebackers Jerry Franklin and Alonzo Highsmith. Those two inside stoppers combined for one solo tackle.
Safety Tramain Thomas and hybrid safety/linebacker Jerico Nelson were left on an island. They combined for 24 tackles trying to fit the gaps the Tigers created.
"We couldn't get off the field," defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said. "They got more plays than us."
Robinson agreed that the Tigers moved inside in the second half. He said, "Seemed like it."
Bequette added, "We knew what the deal was and we didn't get them stopped. We had a good game plan for what they did. We just didn't execute."
Thomas forced the fumble that Highsmith returned for a touchdown in the second quarter, but the Tigers eventually got their running game started.
"They have the mind set of running the ball down your throat," Thomas said. "They came out and did just that. After that play (for the fumble return), we were not able to stop them."
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he was surprised the Tigers went so heavily to the pass in the first half.
"That surprised me that they passed so much," Petrino said. "We did a nice job of defending the run in the first half. They wore us down."
The Tigers spotted the Hogs a 14-0 lead.
"We started out well," said wideout Jarius Wright, held to just two catches. "We came into the game very enthusiastic. We just didn't play in the second half. I can't explain it. It seemed like they blitzed our quarterback in the second half , but I really can't tell you for sure."
That's not how offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said.
"I don't think they blitzed much," McGee said. "I think it was line games up front with their defensive line. They are very good at that. We'd seen them do that. We see line games, stunts. They are just better at it. They have a very good defensive line coach.
"I'm down on the field and I'm not going to tell you exactly what they were doing until I see the video. But I heard (line coach Chris Klenakis) talking throughout the game about the line games. I think that's what was going on with the pressure, not blitzes."
Petrino said that affected the eyes of quarterback Tyler Wilson.
"Yeah, they did get to him," Petrino said. "Particularly, they did in the second half. I think that caused him not to look down the field sometimes and certainly made a difference in the game."
Asked about Wilson's overall play, Petrino said, "I thought we were where we wanted to be in the first half. We had a chance to drive it and take the lead (just before halftime), but then the second half we did not execute well at all on offense."
The Hogs gave up three turnovers and also allowed a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown. McGee moaned about the third-and-longs throughout the game, but it was a failed third-and-4 that preceded Tyrann Mathieu's tying return just 3:24 before the half.
After Wilson had been sacked on first down, he erased most of the long yardage with a 20-yard strike to Joe Adams to set up the last third and short they would have in the game. He went to Wright on a short crossing route over the middle. Wright – sandwiched by two Tigers – couldn't hold it.
Punter Dylan Breeding had been awesome on his first two punts. He had booted it 70 to pin the Tigers at their 7-yard line, then 41 on a pooch to the LSU 3-yard line. But his third punt was beyond his coverage for 42 yards and down the middle of the field. Mathieu beat two Hogs in the middle and then bounced to the outside to go the distance.
"That was a huge turning point in the game," Petrino said. "We were trying to get the ball punted to the sideline, but he missed hit it a bit and punted it to the middle of the field. We had guys right there and he made a tremendous run. He made a great cut and made us miss at the point of attack. He made a great play."
Bequette is one of the shield blockers in punt formation. He said Mathieu made a great play.
"He's really good," he said. "We knew that. We had chances to get him, but didn't get him wrapped up. That's what happens."
Mathieu forced two fumbles, his specialty. Nicknamed the Honey Badger, he had to move to safety when the Tigers were without injured Eric Reed.
"We thought they would do that," Wright said. "That didn't surprise us. He didn't have a great game early. We made some plays. But he had the punt return and he made plays when they were up. That punt return shifted everything.
"Give him credit. That was a big-time play for his team and it was a big part of the game."
Wright said it may not seem like it by looking at the final score, but he felt like the Hogs were in it until the fourth quarter.
"We had our ups and downs during this season, but this wasn't a down," he said. "We came in here and competed. We played a great team and they came out on top
"They are the No. 1 team in the country. Of course, we are upset because we could have finished better. I think we deserve to be in the conversations of the better teams in the country. Regardless of how it ended, the end of the game was very different than the way the game went the rest of the time.
"It definitely could have gone either way."
Perhaps the Hogs ran out of emotion in a week that was full of emotion. Tight end Garrett Uekman died on Sunday. The team was part of a memorial Monday night and will attend his funeral on Monday.
"I'm proud of our football team," Petrino said, referencing the Uekman death. "It has obviously been a tough week for us. But we did a good job in preparation. I thought we practiced well all week long. Our players came out, competed hard and stuck together as a team."
Petrino was asked further about the state of preparation. He said, "They were good. I think for our players the practices were a release from what was going on."
McGee said, "It was a different week. To say it was a regular week would not be saying what's true. We had something extra. But we have no excuses. We didn't play well. That's what happened.
"We didn't play well on first down. It seemed like it was second and long, then third and long. You do that and any defense has an advantage and they are really good on the defensive line. That's giving them too much when you are always in third and long.
"We had the turnovers. We knew coming in we couldn't turn it over. We can't get sacked on first down. We knew those were two things we had to eliminate. This run we've been on, we haven't done that. We haven't turned it over and we haven't had sacks. We did today. We knew we had to stay away from both of those."
Robinson was asked about the nature of the week. He said the team fought through everything with character.
"I thought we did," he said. "It starts with great leadership and that comes first from our head coach. We had tremendous character and leadership from the top. And the rest of the team did a great job through everything we faced. I thought we did a nice job during the week in a difficult circumstance."
Jarius Wright said, "It was a big rollercoaster. No doubt about that. But we have a good group of guys and we stuck together. It's important for a tem to be there for each other."