Story and photos by Chris Taylor, junior at St. John the Baptist STEM Magnet High School and Wyatt Vaughn, freshman at Nicholls State University.
It was about halfway through the third quarter when Arkansas fans finally had enough and started heading for the exits. The LSU home fans, on the other hand, seemed to be having the time of their lives. With profane chants coming from each corner of the stadium, coming out of the liquor soaked mouths of Louisiana residents, the Razorbacks could do nothing but accept their fate. This was the expectation for most fans, but few thought it would happen this quickly.
At one point in the second quarter, LSU was only up 7-6, which was cause enough for fans to be concerned. But from that point forward, LSU ripped off 49 straight points to Arkansas’ 14, putting their arch-rival Razorbacks to bed with a final score of 56-20. Somewhere in that 49, the Tigers beat them every which way possible, running, throwing, show-stopping defense, you name it—the Bayou Bengals accomplished it all on Saturday.
“Stay hungry.” That was the LSU Tigers motto in their weekly football hype video. To say that they have had a fantastic season thus far is an understatement. With the win against Arkansas, they have now clinched the first SEC West championship and a spot in the SEC Championship for the first time since 2011. They are currently ranked No. 1, toppled the seemingly never-going-to-get-defeated Alabama, and secured wins over four top 10 squads. The Tigers have been a team to sleepwalk through games this season, but on Saturday night against a weak Arkansas, the Tigers stuck to their motto: they came out ravenous.
LSU elected to receive the ball to start the game, led by Heisman frontrunner quarterback Joe Burrow. The Tiger offense quickly showed their dominance, with only six play calls and 2:27 ticked off the game clock, Burrow found wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase for a spectacular 37-yard touchdown reception.
On the other end of the ball, the Tigers defense came out matching the offenses’ energy, forcing the Razorbacks offense to punt on their first drive. Late into the Razorbacks’ next drive, a penalty on the Tigers pushed Arkansas into field goal range, putting them on the board for the first time. After the Razorbacks defense forced Burrow and his offense to punt for the second straight drive, the Razorbacks offense capitalized and converted on another field goal, making the score 7-6 going into the second quarter. This would be the only moment that anything felt close.
To start the second quarter, Burrow led his team down the field once again, setting up running back Tyrion Davis-Price for a short touchdown run, ending their two-drive drought without a score. The Tigers scored on consecutive drives with a 27-yard rush from Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Burrow connected with wide receiver Justin Jefferson for 10 yards for a TD. The Tigers closed out the half with a 28-6 lead over the Razorbacks.
The second half was a cake-walk for the Tigers—even the fans knew it. On the opening drive of the second half, Arkansas missed a 45-yard field goal. And after a mixture of deep passes from Burrow and multiple one-play rushes for touchdowns from Edwards-Helaire, the Tigers held a 50-point lead.
Late in the third quarter, head coach Ed Orgeron substituted starting quarterback, Burrow for second string sophomore, Myles Brennan. Former five-star running back, John Emery, was even able to get in on the action. Emery rushed for a 39-yard touchdown, which would be the final time the Tigers saw the endzone after seeing it seven times prior. Then, the defense gave up two garbage-time touchdowns. But no big deal when you’re up by 50.
This was the second consecutive game the Tigers’ offense scored 55+ points and the fifth time this season.
LSU not only walked away from this game with their 12th straight win, with a dominant victory over the now 2-9 Razorbacks, but also claimed the Golden Boot Trophy and was crowned the SEC West division champions for the first time since 2011.
When coach Orgeron was asked why the Tigers didn’t celebrate after the win over Arkansas, his response was champion-like. “There wasn’t going to be a celebration for beating Arkansas; they haven’t beaten anyone in a long time,” said Coach Orgeron, per Brody Miller of The Athletic.
Burrow threw for an impressive 327 total yards and three passing touchdowns. He connected with Chase on two of his three and Jefferson on the one. Chase lead the team in receiving yards with 144 total yards. Edwards-Helaire had another huge outing, rushing for 188 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns, including an 89-yard rush on the first play of a drive late in the third quarter.
The Tigers also made history in this win, becoming the first team in the SEC with a 4,000-yard passer (Joe Burrow), a 1,000-yard rusher ( Edwards-Helaire), and two wide receivers with over 1,000 yards receiving: Chase and Jefferson.
The LSU Tigers will be back in action next Saturday when they host the Texas A&M Aggies. Following that game, then the Tigers will meet the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship in Atlanta, Georgia.