Mallett, Arkansas top LSU, eye BCS bowl bid
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Ryan Mallett threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns as No. 12 Arkansas made its case for the school’s first BCS bowl game with a 31-23 win over No. 6 LSU yesterday.
Mallett finished 13 of 23 and had touchdown passes of 85, 80, and 39 yards for the Razorbacks (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference), who won their sixth straight game.
The junior quarterback broke the school record for TD passes, eclipsing Clint Stoerner’s 57. Mallett now has 60 touchdown passes in two seasons at Arkansas, and his 39-yarder to Joe Adams on fourth and 3 in the fourth quarter put the Razorbacks up, 28-20.
“It’s a play we’ve been working on since LSU last year,’’ Mallett said. “I could have checked out of that play, but it was man coverage and Joe made a great play to make his man miss.’’
LSU (10-2, 6-2), which was outgained, 464-294, never led. Jordan Jefferson passed for 184 yards and ran for 34 for the Tigers.
Arkansas finishes second in the SEC West and could be on its way to the Sugar Bowl.
The Razorbacks likely still need Auburn to win the SEC championship Saturday against South Carolina, but losses by Alabama and Boise State Friday helped their case.
Both of Mallett’s first-half touchdowns went to Cobi Hamilton, giving Arkansas a 21-14 lead. The 80-yarder was on the final play of the half, and it came one play after the Razorbacks started the drive with six seconds remaining before halftime.
LSU opened the second half with a pair of field goals from Josh Jasper to cut the deficit to 21-20, but the Tigers struggled to contain Mallett and Arkansas running back Knile Davis, who had 153 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Ahead, 21-20, early in the fourth quarter, Arkansas faced fourth and 3 at the LSU 39. Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino decided to go for the first down, and Adams used a stop-and-go move to get behind LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu. The Razorbacks added to that lead on their next possession when Zach Hocker hit a 19-yard field to go ahead, 31-20.
The Tigers pulled within 31-23 on Jasper’s 36-yard field goal with 1:58 left, and they got the ball back with less than a minute remaining. However, Arkansas’s Andru Steward sacked Jefferson on second down at the LSU 1 and forced a fumble, which Jerry Franklin recovered for the Razorbacks to secure the victory.