Sudden change

Mathieu's jolt of energy, and an abrupt and dominant second-half turnaround propel LSU to the SEC crown with a 42-10 triumph over Georgia.

ATLANTA – Thanks in large part to the growing legend of the Honey Badger and a pair of backup tailbacks saving their best for the biggest stage of their lives, LSU is on its way to the BCS National Championship Game.

As logical as that was to say after the No. 1-ranked Tigers blew past 12th-ranked Georgia 42-10 in the SEC Championship Game, it didn't make a whole lot of sense at halftime.

On top: LSU players hoist the SEC Championship trophy
Woeful on offense for the first 30 minutes, LSU came to life with a familiar spark from Tyrann Mathieu – nicknamed the Honey Badger – in the second quarter and came out with new life in the third to barrel pas the Bulldogs.

The victory keeps the Tigers unbeaten at 13-0 and assures them a spot in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.

For a while, though, that all looked precarious.

LSU showed little life until Mathieu gathered in a booming punt from Georgia's Drew Butler at the 38-yard-line and triggered a rally. Mathieu weaved in and out of traffic, wiggled loose from a gaggle of defenders and arrived in the end zone to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 10-7.

Then in the third quarter, the Tigers' offense finally found the on switch.

Kenny Hilliard: Three touchdowns helps LSU turn the game around.
LSU got the ball back when defensive end Michael Brockers stripped the ball from Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray at the end of a 9-yard scramble and Mathieu – who else – recovered.

Two plays later, Kenny Hilliard crashed into the end zone on 15-yar power burst, triggering a 21-point third-quarter uprising that led to a 28-10 Tigers lead.

Hilliard scored the other two TDs as well: A 4-yard run to cap a short drive set up by Mathieu's 46-yard punt return and an 8-yard pass from Jordan Jefferson when Hilliard bulled over Bulldogs' cornerback Brandon Boykin.

Hilliard, LSU's fourth-string tailback, finished with 72 rushing yards. Third-stringer Alfred Blue was just as big a spark with 94 yards, including a back-breaking 48-yard TD scamper with 6:17 to play.

Mo Claiborne's pick-six added an exclamation point.
Morris Claiborne added an exclamation point when he swiped a Murray pass and raced 45 yards for a score.

Somehow, LSU was still within striking range at halftime despite the ignominy of not registering a first down on seven first-half possessions.

The Tigers took 21 snaps on those series and scratched out only 12 yards, an intentional grounding flag right before halftime wiping out 17 yards.

Jefferson was 2-for-8 in the initial 30 minutes, but neither completion was beyond the line of scrimmage and the throws he did launch were nowhere close to the intended targets most of the time.

Mathieu was LSU's saving grace, along with a defense that adjusted after the Bulldogs punched them in the mouth on their first few series.

Georgia came out firing with Murray floating a 44-yard strike to Tavarres King on the second snap to set up a 40-yard Blair Walsh field goal.

Walsh missed a 45-yard kick on the second possession, but the Bulldogs nudged the lead to 10-0 on Murray's 12-yard TD strike to Aron White that finished off a 44-yard drive, which Carlton Thomas fueled with a 16-yard run.

After that, the Tigers tightened up and forced four straight Georgia punts. The Dawgs managed only 16 yards and two first downs on those four series.

That was still more productive than LSU, though.

Jefferson looked tight and threw poorly, and the Tigers' normally reliable offensive line was constantly beaten at the point of attack. The SEC's second-best rushing team coming in, LSU managed to carve out only 5 yards on 13 attempts – none longer than 4 yards. On seven third downs, the Tigers produced 5 yards, twice coming up short with 2 yards or less to go for a first down.


SCORING RECAP: LSU 42, Georgia 10

Adjustments help push LSU to title

VIDEO: TSD 1-on-1 with Les Miles

VIDEO: Jefferson after Tigers win the SEC title

PHOTO GALLERY: A championship in pictures

Tiger Blitz Top Stories