FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Alabama’s crushing, dramatic overtime win over LSU last week carried 530 miles north.
The Tigers laid an egg in chilly northwest Arkansas — a goose egg.
LSU’s offense bumbled and stumbled, its defense finally wilted, and its once-promising season spiraled to mediocrity.
The Tigers mustered just 123 yards, and the Razorbacks whipped No. 20 LSU 17-0 on Saturday night to snap a 17-game Southeastern Conference losing streak and get their first win over a ranked team in three years.
LSU (7-4, 3-4) followed a three-game winning streak with consecutive losses, and coach Les Miles’ crew went from leading fourth-ranked Alabama with 50 seconds left to being smashed by a Hogs team that hadn’t won a league game since October 2012.
“Can’t really describe it,” receiver Travin Dural said afterward, just outside of a gloomy LSU locker room.
“It’s tough, man,” running back Terrence Magee said. “We’re spoiled. We’re not used to losing.”
The Tigers were shut out for the first time since a 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS national title game after the 2011 season, and Arkansas (5-5, 1-5) became the first team not named Alabama to blank LSU since Texas A&M did it in 1993.
Behind a patchwork offensive line – it was missing two starters for much of the game – LSU ran for a season-low 36 yards on 32 carries, the worst rushing output since 2005.
Quarterback Anthony Jennings was sacked four times, threw for just 86 yards and lost a fumble. He had LSU’s longest play from scrimmage – a 13-yard scrambling run.
Miles left freshman quarterback Brandon Harris on the sidelines to the very end despite saying earlier in the week that the rookie would play in the final two games.
“I think we went with Anthony for the reason that it gives us our best chance at victory,” he said afterward.
“Everything’s not Anthony’s fault,” Magee said.
The Tigers mustered negative-1 yard of offense in the first quarter, fell behind 10-0 in the second, missed two field goals and didn’t break the 100-yard mark until about 10 minutes were left.
The final blow came during what looked like a fourth-quarter rally. The Tigers marched to the Arkansas 20-yard line with about 9 minutes left before Jennings lost his fumble.
Razorback Stadium — and its 70,165 shivering inhabitants — erupted in a roar as the Hogs began to celebrate a long-awaited victory in the SEC.
On a frigid night — it was 31 degrees at kickoff — coach Bret Bielema and his Razorbacks won a conference game for the first time in more than two years.
Arkansas got its first win over a ranked team since beating Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl after the 2011 season, pitched its first shutout in a dozen years and snapped a three-game skid to the Tigers.
“If I could pick one game to win all season and lose all of the others, it would be this one,” said Arkansas lineman Brey Cook, who’s offense was 10-of-17 on third downs.
After the final play, Arkansas fans rushed the field, and its players raced across the playing surface, capturing the 175-pound copper Golden Boot trophy and lifting it for a parade around the field among a bundled 15,000 fans.
“Most of the time, they come shake hands, but they went right for that trophy,” Magee said. “You can tell those guys were really hungry.”
LSU now has an off week to recover from one of the most embarrassing performances in Miles’ 10 years. The loss means LSU won’t reach at least 10 wins for a fifth straight season, and the Tigers lost consecutive games for just the second time in the Miles era.
They travel to Texas A&M on Thanksgiving to cap a season that looked so promising just a week ago. LSU led Alabama 13-10 with 50 seconds left before a collapse led to a gut-wrenching 20-13 loss in overtime.
It lingered into this game.
LSU’s first quarter included a snap from center Elliott Porter that flew 5 feet over Jennings’ head and lost 27 yards, a timeout on the second offensive play of the game and a sack.
“We were not crisp at the start,” Miles said.
“Sub-par at best,” Jennings said of his play.
The Tigers had just three first-half possessions, and Arkansas had only four. The teams combined for four drives of more than 8 yards in the first two quarters — a telling stat between a pair of squads with similar, run-heavy, time-consuming offensive styles.
A team that relies on the run so much, the Tigers ran the ball for 18 yards on 18 carries in the first half. It didn’t improve the rest of the game.
LSU fell nearly 200 yards short of its average rushing yards a game – in part, maybe, because of the loss of two starting offensive linemen.
The Tigers lost Porter in the second quarter to a right ankle injury, and left guard Vadal Alexander didn’t travel with the team because of a hand injury suffered against Alabama, news that emerged just two hours before kickoff.
“Some guys switched positions,” Jennings said. “That rattled things up early.”
Freshman and leading rusher Leonard Fournette had just five yards on nine carries.
“Those guys were hungry,” Magee said of Arkansas. “They haven’t won an SEC game. They pursued the ball hard. Their defensive line did a great job.”
LSU also didn’t have senior running back Kenny Hilliard. He’s out for the final two regular-season games with a shoulder injury suffered in the loss to the Crimson Tide. Meanwhile, the usual solid field goal-kicking of Colby Delahoussaye crumbled in the cold. He missed two field goals for the first time in one game — the first from 27 yards and a third-quarter whiff from 47 that fell well short.
It all resulted in a fan-storming of a different kind. The Tigers rushed the field for the first time in more than a decade earlier this season after a win over then-No. 3 Ole Miss.
Razorback fans blanketed the field after the victory Saturday night, and Hogs players toted the rivalry trophy high as LSU slowly walked to its locker room.
“Got to go into the lab,” Jennings said, “and get better.”