Tigers No. 1 No More

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Matt Flynn walked off the field and into the tunnel that leads under Tiger Stadium with his head down.

Chants of "LSU, LSU" echoed around him, but Flynn couldn't bring himself to look up, despite the cheers and applause.

After weeks of living on the edge, and despite being given a second chance at No. 1, LSU finally dropped out of the national championship chase for good on Friday with a 50-48 triple-overtime loss to Arkansas. Afterward, the Tigers were left struggling for answers and grasping for motivation.

"Obviously, our national championship dreams are pretty much all but gone," said LSU senior running back Jacob Hester.

LSU entered Friday ranked No. 1 for the second time this season. And for the second time, the Tigers went down as No. 1 -- with both losses coming in triple-overtime.

The first came at Kentucky on Oct. 13. However, after wins over Auburn, Alabama and Louisiana Tech, LSU climbed back into the No. 1 spot after Ohio State lost to Illinois. Despite the ranking, however, the Tigers had some close calls -- including a last-second 30-24 win over Auburn and struggling through a 41-24 win over Ole Miss last week.

"We felt like we controlled most of those games, if not all of them," Hester said. "I felt like we had the momentum going to overtime (against Arkansas) and we made a couple of big plays in overtime.

"But when it mattered, we just didn't make that final one."

On Friday, LSU's top-ranked rushing defense in the Southeastern Conference -- one which hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher all season -- struggled to stop Arkansas' running game for the second-straight season. The Razorbacks finished with 385 yards on the ground, led by Darren's McFadden's 206. Last season, McFadden had 182 yards against the Tigers.

"(Arkansas) just kept coming and coming," LSU coach Les Miles said.

LSU's offense, meanwhile, was sluggish in the first half -- gaining just 95 yards of total offense to Arkansas' 144. In the second half, the Tigers started moving the ball, but they had to in order to keep up with an Arkansas offense that also started moving the ball.

Demetrius Byrd's 2-yard touchdown catch with 57 seconds remaining in regulation tied the game at 28 for LSU. It closed to within 50-48 in the third overtime when Flynn found Brandon LaFell for a 9-yard strike.

However, Flynn's attempted pass to Byrd on the two-point conversion didn't find its mark -- instead hitting Arkansas' Matterral Richardson and putting the final touch on the Tigers' first home loss since falling to Tennessee in 2005.

"We generally have something (on the play)," Miles said. "Obviously, where we threw it, we didn't have anything."

Although their national title hopes are gone, the SEC Western Division champion Tigers still must travel to Atlanta next week for the SEC championship game. There they'll face either Tennessee or Georgia.

"We understand what it means," Miles said of the missed opportunity at a national title. "But we still have to play another game, a very important game, bigger than the one we just played for the (SEC) title.

"That's what we have to look to."

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