Arkansas' defense gave the offense two second-half chances to seize the momentum in a scoring duel, and when those were wasted LSU scooted away with a 41-38 SEC football victory before 89,560 at Tiger Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The Tigers need only a victory at home next week versus Auburn to claim the SEC West title and the trip to the championship game. Arkansas finished the regular season at 7-4, losing for the first time in seven games. The Hogs ended at 4-4 in SEC play. They had won four straight SEC games.
LSU had 518 total yards to go with five turnovers. Arkansas totaled 412 yards with two turnovers. Both teams had 22 first downs.
LSU's Rohan Davey completed 19 of 33 passes with four interceptions for 359 yards and three TDs. For Arkansas, Matt Jones was 5-10 with two interceptions and two TDs. Zak Clark, who was 1 of 9 in the first half, finished 10 of 22 for 137 yards and two TDs. Jones led Arkansas' rushers with 13 carries for 73 yards, but was stuffed in the second half.
LSU wide receiver Josh Reed caught 7 passes for 183 yards and two TDs. George Wilson led Arkansas with 7 catches for 115 yards.
The Arkansas defense came up with two interceptions to give the Hogs chances deep in LSU territory, but neither produced any points. Matt Jones was intercepted on the first, then Brennan O'Donohoe's 43-yard field goal that would given the Hogs the lead hit the right upright to leave LSU ahead 27-25 with 11:16 left.
LSU then drove 73 yards in five plays for a touchdown, then cashed Jones' second interception with a one-play, 17-yard TD march to make it 41-25 with 8:21 left.
Zak Clark, who struggled the rest of the day, answered with a six-play, 80-yard TD march, hitting George Wilson for the final 11 yards to close it to 41-31. He hit Sparky Hamilton on a 15-yard TD pass to make it 41-38 at 2:27 of the fourth quarter.
LSU outscored Arkansas, 20-19, in a crazy first half. The Hogs took a 13-7 lead on 3-yard TD run by Jones and O'Donohoe field goals of 27 and 20. The second came after the Hogs stalled at the LSU 1-yard line when Cedric Cobbs was stopped on a second-and-1 play just a foot short of the goal line. Jones kept on a 54-yard option keeper to get the Hogs to the LSU 6-yard line.
There were three TDs in the final four minutes of the half, two by LSU. LeBrandon Toefield scored on a 9-yard run with 3:24 left. Then, after Richard Smith caught a 15-yard TD pass from Jones at 1:19, the Tigers beat the halftime clock with a four-play, 68-yard march on Rohan Davey's 20-yard pass to Josh Reed.
Davey found Michael Clayton behind Batman Carroll for a 60-yard bomb on LSU's second try of the third quarter. It was 27-19 at 8:17. The Hogs answered when Jones found Sparky Hamilton on a 61-yard TD bomb after they converted fourth-and-1 on a fake punt. It was 27-25 at 3:44 of the third quarter.
Caleb Miller intercepted Davey on the next play to give the Hogs possession at the LSU 27-yard line. But, on third-and-8, Jones was going down and tried to throw the ball away and his soft lob went to a defensive lineman and was intercepted. Five plays later Carroll intercepted Davey's bomb into coverage. He returned it 45 yards to the LSU 41. But, O'Donohoe's 43-yarder hit the right upright.
From there, it was all LSU, until Clark returned at quarterback with the Hogs down, 41-25. He took the Hogs to a quick score with superb passing, then guided them 57 yards in six plays, covering the final 15 yards with a fade to Hamilton. It was 41-38 at the 2:27 mark.
LSU got the ball back at its 20 with 2:21 left and the Hogs in possession of two timeouts. The Tigers got one first down when Tony Bua had his back to Davey's high lob for Reed, and eventually reached in to grab his hand for a 15-yard pass interference penalty at 1:36. the Hogs used their first timeout after stopping Toefield for a 2-yard loss at 1:30. They stopped him for another loss of 1 yard, and called their final timeout at 1:25. On third-and-13, Davey found Reed for a 31-yarder over the middle for a first down at the UA 36 inside the final minute. The Tigers ran out the clock from there to eliminate the Hogs from the SEC West chase.