After two straight heartbreaking losses, Arkansas didn't take any chances against LSU.
The No. 13 Razorbacks, coming off last-minute losses to Tennessee and Mississippi State, built a 21-point halftime lead and coasted to a 41-14 victory over LSU Friday.
"The last two weeks were really tough losses," said tailback Chris Chukwuma, who gained 166 yards on 29 carries. "Everybody was glad to go out this way, with smiles on their faces."
Clint Stoerner completed 27 of 38 passes for 334 yards and one touchdown for Arkansas (9-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference), which earned a share of the Western Division title after two consecutive 4-7 seasons.
"No one gave us a chance and we won nine football games," said first-year coach Houston Nutt.
Although Arkansas tied Mississippi State for the division title, the Bulldogs will play Tennessee in the SEC title game because they beat Arkansas 22-21 last week. The week before, Stoerner fumbled while trying to run out the clock against Tennessee and the top-ranked Vols came back to win 28-24.
"We'll take a co-championship our first year," said Nutt, whose team remained in contention for a second-tier bowl bid.
It was a disappointing season for LSU (4-7, 2-6), which had its first losing season in four years under Gerry DiNardo. The Tigers, who were ranked No. 6 after their third game, lost close games to Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Notre Dame.
| The Razorbacks wre able to contain LSU tailback Kevin Faulk (left) who even lined up at quarterback, too. (AP) |
"You always thought something was going to fall our way, but it never fell," said LSU tailback Kevin Faulk.
The Tigers had a chance to tie the game 14-14, but ended up trailing 21-7 a few moments later.
From the LSU 12, Stoerner threw toward the left sideline. Mark Roman flashed in front of the intended receiver, but missed the interception with nothing but open field in front of him. On the next play, Arnold Miller blocked Todd Latourette's 29-yard field goal attempt and the ball caromed high. LSU's Aaron Adams tried to catch the deflection, but fumbled it and Arkansas offensive guard Brandon Burlsworth recovered at the 1.
Chukwuma scored his second touchdown two plays later.
LSU closed to 28-14 early in the third quarter, but Chukwuma broke a 37-yard run up the middle to set up a 45-yard field goal by Latourette. Chukwuma carried 17 times for 141 yards in the second half.
Chukwuma's 5-yard run and Stoerner's 4-yard pass to Emanuel Smith gave Arkansas a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Chukwuma's first TD ended a 49-yard drive that included two big passes by Stoerner -- a leaping 17-yard catch by Michael Williams on third-and-6, and a sliding 18-yard reception by Joe Dean Davenport that gave Arkansas a first-and-goal at the 5.
Stoerner completed 6-of-8 for 64 yards as Arkansas moved 72 yards in 12 plays for its second TD.
On the Tigers' next possession, they used Faulk at quarterback and he made some big plays. On third-and-2, he ran the option and went for 15 yards. He ran the same play from the 2 and scored easily for an SEC record 53rd career touchdown, breaking Herschel Walker's mark at Georgia.
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