LSU couldn’t even get a first down in the first half Saturday.
But the Honey Badger didn’t care.
Tyrann Mathieu, LSU’s spark plug cornerback and punt returner, kept LSU in the SEC championship game with a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first half, then added another long return and a fumble recovery that sparked No. 1 LSU’s 42-10 win over No. 14 Georgia at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
LSU (13-0) tied a school record for wins in a season and guaranteed itself a spot in the BCS national championship game Dec. 9 in New Orleans where it will likely have a rematch with Alabama, the only team that stayed close to the Tigers this year. Oklahoma State could stay in contention with a win over Oklahoma tonight.
Running back Kenny Hilliard scored three touchdowns for LSU – two rushing and one receiving – to lead the Tigers offense. But there was precious little offense for the game’s first half.
The Tigers went 3-and-out on every first-half possession, but only trailed 10-7 at halftime thanks to Mathieu’s electrifying 62-yard weave of a punt return for a touchdown that pulled LSU within 10-7 in the secocnd quarter. Georgia (10-3) also blew several chances to add points with two dropped touchdown passes and several other drops.
With the drops, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray finished 16-for-40 for 163 with two interceptions.
But LSU’s offense adjusted at halftime and sparked by a fumble by Murray forced by Michael Brockers and recovered by Mathieu, the Tigers took off.
Alfred Blue had a team-high 94 yards on 8 carries while Hilliard carried eight times for 72 yards as the Tigers seemed to adjust after halftime. The Tigers created three turnovers, with cornerback Morris Claiborne returning one for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Mathieu also had a 47-yard punt return in the third quarter.
That more than made up for the fact that quarterback Jordan Jefferson had an awful day, completing 5 of 13 passes for just 30 yards. Despite Jefferson’s struggles, Jarrett Lee never played.