LSU Football: Grading the Tigers Game vs. Arkansas
LSU proved once again just how good they can be with their back up against the wall.
After facing a 14-0 deficit right out of the gate, the Tigers scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter and went on to defeat Arkansas 41-17. The win secured the Tigers a spot in the SEC championship game and likely locked up a spot in the BCS national championship.
LSU's dominant rushing attack was on display again in this one and was one of many highlights from this big-time conference victory.
Let's hand out some report card grades.
Bleacher Report Style!
I predicted that Jordan Jefferson would play at least 90 percent of the quarterback snaps in this game if LSU was going to win.
He played at least 90 percent. In fact, he played 100 percent of the snaps.
Jefferson has officially taken over the starting quarterback gig for the Tigers, and he was impressive in this one.
Jefferson completed 18-of-29 passes for 208 yards, a touchdown and an interception. But what makes Jefferson more valuable to this team is his running ability. Jefferson ran for 53 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown run that put this game out of hand early on in the fourth quarter.
He can still improve, but this was a pretty darn good showing against a pretty darn good Arkansas football team.
For those of you who do not know LSU freshman running back Kenny Hilliard, you should now.
Hilliard rushed for a game-high 102 yards and a touchdown to lead LSU's dominant ground attack in the win over Arkansas.
Hilliard is just another key part of LSU's impressive backfield. In fact, while they might not get the credit, LSU has one of, if not the best backfield not only in the SEC, but throughout the entire country.
Michael Ford added 96 yards, and Spencer Ware chipped in 37 yards and a touchdown as the Tigers ran for a total of 286 yards on 46 carries, an average of 6.2 yards-per-carry. Jordan Jefferson also added a rushing touchdown, to give LSU a total of three in this game.
Right now, there isn't a better backfield in the country.
In the week leading up to this game, we heard so much about Arkansas' receiving core and how good that unit was.
Well when it was all said done, LSU's wide receivers got the best of this matchup.
The Tigers' receivers caught 18 balls for 208 yards, led by Rueben Randle's nine catches for 134 yards through the air. Arkansas' receivers had just 14 total catches for 207 yards, but not one of their receivers had more than three grabs on the day.
Russell Shepard had the lone touchdown catch for this group, which came in the closing minute of the first half.
We would have liked to see some other players get more involved, but this did come against the No. 3-ranked team in the nation at the time.
When you look at any offensive line, the key is to block for your quarterback and pave the way for a solid ground attack.
LSU's offensive line did both of those to near perfection on Friday.
Jefferson appeared to have time to make throws in this game, and as we saw, when you gain 286 yards on the ground, you know that the offensive line is doing their job.
This group just continues to get better and has to be considered among the best in the nation.
LSU's defensive line was exceptional in this victory.
As a unit, LSU sacked Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson five times and was in his face throughout this game.
Wilson was considered to be the best QB in the SEC, but LSU's defense made him look average at best in this one. He completed just 14 passes in the game.
It doesn't get much better than Sam Montgomery and this defensive line unit.
LSU's linebackers continue to improve, and they were fantastic in this one.
The Tigers held Arkansas to just 47 yards on the ground. Yes, that's right—the entire team rushed for just 47 yards. That came on 28 carries, which is an average of just 1.7 yards per carry.
Of course, Arkansas isn't known for their run game. But they have been averaging over 100 ypg before this one.
The credit goes to LSU's linebacking unit for this dominant stat line.
LSU's dominant secondary was at it again on Friday.
Mo Claiborne had an interception, Tyrann Mathieu played lock-down coverage and the Tigers' secondary held this so-called "exceptional" Arkansas receiving core in check throughout the day.
We would have liked to see the unit hold Arkansas to less than 200 yards receiving, but when you're playing against the No. 3-ranked team in the nation, that's acceptable.
Finally, we saw this unit break out—specifically, in the return game.
Tyrann Mathieu returned three punts for 115 yards, including an electrifying 92-yard return for a touchdown late in the second quarter, which really set the tone for this game from there on out.
Drew Alleman was a perfect 2-of-2 on field goals, and Brad Wing booted two big punts as LSU had its best special teams day of the season.
This group was too good to remain that quiet for that long.
Les Miles had his team ready for this one, and they played their best with the pressure facing them early on.
After trailing 14-0 early on, LSU came alive and looked like hands-down the best team in the country.
There should be no doubt that LSU is the top team in the nation, and Les Miles has a lot to do with that.
LSU was ranked No.1, and Arkansas was ranked No. 3.
An SEC championship berth was on the line. The winner would likely be in place to play in the national title game.
And when it was all said and done, LSU dominated this contest.
LSU has the best rushing attack in the country and the best defense in the country.
Both were on display in this one, and both will need to be on display if LSU is going to finish out this perfect season and hold up a national title trophy.
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