Top-ranked LSU cruises in SEC title game

LSU 42, Georgia 10

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ATLANTA — An hour after the game’s conclusion, two men wearing gas-powered leaf blowers on their backs began clearing off the purple-and-gold confetti inside the Georgia Dome.

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Louisiana State University cornerback Tharold Simon makes an interception in front of Georgia receiver Tavarres King on Saturday.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Louisiana State University cornerback Tharold Simon makes an interception in front of Georgia receiver Tavarres King on Saturday.

Earlier, top-ranked Louisiana State University cleaned Georgia off the field, posting 42 unanswered points – 35 in the second half – for a 42-10 win in Saturday’s Southeastern Championship Game.

The Tigers snapped the 12th-ranked Bulldogs’ 10-game winning streak, quashing any chance of an upset after intermission. Despite winning time of possession and the yardage battle, Georgia lost three turnovers – all in the second half – and watched LSU (13-0) claim its 11th conference title.

“Frankly, it was just a matter of time that this team would rebound and this team would get their feet underneath them and play,” said Tigers coach Les Miles, whose team is almost certain to play in the national championship.

Sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was named the game’s most valuable player after scoring LSU’s first touchdown on a controversial 62-yard punt return – replays appeared to show that Mathieu let go of the ball just prior to crossing the goal line– and setting up another score with a 47-yard punt return in the third quarter. Also in the third quarter, Mathieu recovered an Aaron Murray fumble deep in Georgia territory to set up the Tigers’ go-ahead touchdown.

“When you play as hard as he does, good things happen,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of Mathieu. “I enjoy watching the guy play football other than when he plays against us.”

Georgia (10-3) overcame two losses at the beginning of the season to reach the SEC Championship contest for the first time since 2005. Playing in its fourth league championship game, Georgia jumped out front early, 10-0, with a Blair Walsh 40-yard field goal and a Murray 12-yard touchdown pass to Aron White. The lead wouldn’t last, as the offense failed to establish a running game and gained just 162 of its 296 total yards the final three quarters.

Georgia rushed for 78 yards on 34 carries, with Ken Malcome leading the way with 37 yards. Bulldogs leading rusher Isaiah Crowell, who said he was 100 percent after being hobbled with an ankle injury in past weeks, mustered just 15 yards on 10 rushes and also drew a personal foul penalty.

Murray went 16 for 40 passing for 163 yards and two interceptions. Murray also watched receivers Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell drop touchdown passes on the first two drives of the game.

“I was proud of the way we started,” Richt said. “We probably could have had 21 points in the first half if we just catch the football, but we weren’t able to do that.”

Georgia’s defense shut down LSU the first two quarters, limiting the Tigers to zero first downs and just 12 yards of offense.

LSU’s only points came when Mathieu fielded a punt at the 38, darted past Bulldog defenders and broke free toward the end zone. Television replays showed Mathieu tossing the ball to a referee before he crossed the goal line. Nonetheless, the touchdown stood.

“I could see the referee looking at me kind of strange,” Mathieu said. “I’ll be sure next time to make sure I cross the goal line.”

Georgia’s offense careened off the tracks in the pivotal third quarter, when LSU scored 21 points. Murray’s fumble on the Bulldogs first drive after halftime led to a 15-yard Kenny Hilliard touchdown run.

After another Georgia drive stalled, Mathieu set up another LSU touchdown with a 47-yard punt return, giving the Tigers a first-and-10 at the 17. Four plays later, Hilliard punched it in from the 4. LSU went up 11.

After a Murray interception, The Tigers drove 70 yards in 10 plays, Jordan Jefferson capping the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Hilliard for a back-breaking touchdown and a 28-10 lead.

LSU finished the contest with 13 first downs and 237 total yards, 207 of them on the ground. The Tigers set an SEC Championship record with 42 unanswered points.

BCS SHAPING UP

Louisiana State University did its part to make sure both the Tigers and Alabama get into the BCS national title game.

Houston, however, botched its chance to become this year’s BCS buster with a 49-38 loss to Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA championship.

The top-ranked Tigers locked up a spot in the championship on Jan. 9 in New Orleans with its win over Georgia.

LSU will be first in the BCS standings when they come out today. Oklahoma State, third in the last BCS, routed rival Oklahoma, 44-10, but might end up on the outside looking in.

Comments (8) Add comment
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moonlighter6
13
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moonlighter6 12/04/11 - 04:54 am
0
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First half was owned by the
Unpublished

First half was owned by the DOGs.

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 12/04/11 - 07:25 am
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Second half wasn't.

Second half wasn't.

Riverman1
79424
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Riverman1 12/04/11 - 11:34 am
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UGA's season is not over.

UGA's season is not over. There is the bowl game yet. What time are the bowl selections released?

Vito45
-2
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Vito45 12/04/11 - 11:43 am
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Blown calls by the refs

Blown calls by the refs didn't help Ga; but they were in control of their own destiny. Had they executed all of the plays they should have, it could have been a blowout the other way. At a minimum it would have been very competitive. Ga is a young team, LSU has a bunch of 5 year guys. It showed.

charliemanson
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charliemanson 12/04/11 - 11:48 am
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After holding LSU to no first

After holding LSU to no first downs in the first half, it would have been nice if GA could have won the game. But Richt knew what the SEC gods wanted and Richt delivered it to them. No different than what Spurrier did, last year.

LSUTigersarebetter
0
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LSUTigersarebetter 12/04/11 - 12:43 pm
0
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Oh, the delusion of the

Oh, the delusion of the little puppy fans....football is 4 quarters, not 2....championship teams like LSU realize that....

Just My Opinion
5271
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Just My Opinion 12/04/11 - 02:18 pm
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C'mon, LSU...be better than

C'mon, LSU...be better than that. I went to the game last night and met ZERO obnoxious/arrogant LSU fans...NONE. You'd think that they'd know that winning last night would've given them a pass to act excited and happy with winning the SECC title, but they didn't, at least not in front of the Georgia fans around me. I thought they were very classy...so you be classy too, okay?

Whim
4
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Whim 12/04/11 - 04:28 pm
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JMO, It's SEC football, and I

JMO, It's SEC football, and I love my Dawgs. But they got beat like a bass drum. I would be the one of the loudest fans chanting "LSU stinks" if we had won, but we didn't. They earned it, we have to take a little trash talk as long as it's not hateful. LSUtigersarebetter, if he is a true LSU fan gets to have his day. Congrats LSU, see you next time and we will have eaten our Wheaties so be ready.

Just My Opinion
5271
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Just My Opinion 12/04/11 - 06:22 pm
0
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Fair enough. I guess I was

Fair enough. I guess I was comparing his relatively short post to what I had heard from the LSU fans who attended the game. We got whooped by a better team, and that's the bottom line!

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