FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) – Ed Orgeron could be heard screaming encouragement through the door of the LSU locker room following a 24-17 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night.
It wasn’t the prettiest of finishes to an otherwise dominant victory, but the coach of the No. 9 Tigers (8-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) was all about restoring a sense of swagger after a disheartening home loss to No. 1 Alabama a week ago.
Led by Joe Burrow and a dominating defensive effort, LSU did just that while winning for the third straight time over the struggling Razorbacks (2-8, 0-6).
Burrow was 15 of 21 for 195 yards and a touchdown, and the Tigers allowed only 91 yards of Arkansas offense through three quarters on their way to improving to 8-0 under Orgeron in games following a loss. The Tigers haven’t lost back-to-back games since dropping three straight in 2015.
“It was good to get on the plane, it was good to get out of Baton Rogue and come to a tough place to play,” Orgeron said. “Although it wasn’t pretty, we won the football game and our guys feel good about themselves.”
Justin Jefferson had six catches for 117 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown for the game’s first score. Nick Brossette added 90 yards rushing and a touchdown, but it was the LSU defense that set the tone early before allowing two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“We played LSU football,” Tigers safety JaCoby Stevens said. “Coach O wants us to play tough, mean and nasty, and that’s what we did.”
The Razorbacks managed a season-low 216 yards of total offense – including only 16 yards on the ground – while losing their ninth straight SEC game dating to last season. They are the only school in the SEC without a conference victory this season.
Ty Storey completed 19 of 38 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns to tight end Cheyenne O’Grady for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks have lost three straight to LSU and eight of their last nine games under first-year coach Chad Morris.
“We knew they were an elite defense, and they definitely showed that,” Morris said.
Arkansas trailed 24-3 in the fourth quarter before Storey connected on the two touchdown passes to O’Grady – the second of which closed the LSU lead to 24-17 with 5:27 remaining.
The Tigers, however, closed out the win on offense by putting together a nine-play, 58-yard drive. Brossette had the final four rushes of the game and purposely fell down short of the goal line on his last two carries to ensure LSU was able to run out the clock and secure the much-needed bounce-back win.
So much for any lingering after effects from last week’s loss to the Crimson Tide for LSU, at least defensively. The Tigers bested their previous best defensive effort of 254 total yards allowed, which they did against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 8. They forced Arkansas to punt on its first six possessions, and the only points LSU allowed in the first half came after a fumble that gave the Razorbacks the ball deep in Tigers’ territory late in the half.
Razorbacks defensive lineman Michael Taylor was called for targeting and ejected from the game following a hit on Burrow in the second quarter. The sophomore hit Burrow near the top of his back and into his helmet on the play, but he still finished with two tackles and a sack.
After falling four spots to No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings following last week’s loss to Alabama, the Tigers reasserted their position as one of the country’s best – and kept alive their slim hopes of finishing among the top four teams at the end of the season.
The Tigers step out of conference to host Rice.
Arkansas travels to Mississippi State.