It may have been a balmy November Friday for football, but things certainly got a little frosty late in the game between Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and LSU coach Les Miles.
Shortly after Drew Alleman’s field goal with 5:08 remaining, CBS showed a slow-motion replay of Petrino pointing toward the LSU sideline and mouthing something.
When the coaches met for their postgame handshake at midfield, Petrino pulled away after two shakes and headed to the Arkansas locker room.
Miles appeared to try to maintain their grasp and could be seen calling out to Petrino as he walked away. Miles then turned and let out a quick, “Wow!” in response before pausing a few steps away to do an interview with CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson.
Asked if he and Petrino had words after the game, Miles quipped: “Not many.”
Petrino was not asked about the postgame handshake during his postgame interview.
Big recruiting weekend
The showdown made this a big recruiting weekend for LSU. The visitors included lots of 2013 prospects but were headlined by an unofficial visit from quarterback Gunnier Kiel (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) from Columbus (Ind.) East.
Previously committed to in-state Indiana, Kiel has thrown his recruiting process back open. According to Rivals.com, Kiel, who attended the game with his parents, may return for an official visit if this weekend went well. Kiel is ranked No. 15 on the Rivals 100, No. 17 on the Scout 300 and No. 20 on the ESPNU 150.
Also back for an official visit was Dutchtown safety prospect Landon Collins (6-0, 210), ranked No. 8 on the ESPNU 150 and regarded as the state’s top prospect for 2012.
Among the others here were LSU commitment Torshiro Davis (6-3, 220), a defensive end from Woodlawn of Shreveport, and 2013 wide receiver prospect Rickey Jefferson (5-11, 185) of Destrehan, younger brother of quarterback Jordan Jefferson.
Free safety Eric Reid, who injured a quadriceps muscle the previous Saturday at Ole Miss, dressed out but did not play. Tyrann Mathieu slid over from his corner position to play free safety, with Ron Brooks starting in Mathieu’s spot.
Running back Alfred Blue (ankle) also did not play.
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers limped into postgame interviews but played most of the game, making five tackles.
LSU’s only other obvious injury came with 12:48 left in the third quarter when fullback J.C. Copeland went down with a blow to his knee. Copeland jogged off but later returned.
Arkansas and LSU paid tribute Friday to Razorbacks tight end Garrett Uekman, who died unexpectedly Sunday from an apparent heart condition.
Arkansas players wore a “GU” sticker on their helmets and a red wristband in his memory. Arkansas coaches and staffers wore black ribbons with Uekman’s No. 88. Another Razorbacks tight end, Austin Tate, changed his number from 87 to 88 in Uekman’s honor.
A moment of silence for Uekman was observed in Tiger Stadium before kickoff.
“It was a difficult week,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said. “I’d be lying if I said it was a regular week, because that’s not true at all. We did have something happen to us that was extreme, but we have no excuses. We didn’t play very well today.”
With Friday’s win, LSU ...
* Improved to 12-0 and 8-0 in SEC play for the first time in school history.
* Extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 13 games, tying the school’s longest streak since 2006-07.
* Extended its home winning streak to 17 games.
* Rallied from its largest deficit this season (previous biggest was four points against Oregon on Sept. 3) and from a 14-point deficit to win for the first time since overcoming a 31-3 deficit to Troy on Nov. 15, 2008 (LSU won 40-31).
* Scored its largest victory margin over Arkansas since a 43-14 win in Little Rock in 2004.
Welcome back, Honey Badger.
Largely silent for most of the past two months and suspended for the Auburn game on Oct. 22, Mathieu made a splashy showing against Arkansas.
Mathieu returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 with 3:24 left before halftime. His return is tied for the third-longest in school history behind a 100-yarder by Eddie Kennison against Mississippi State in 1994, a 93-yarder by Chad Jones at Mississippi State in 2009, and tied a 92-yarder by Kenny Konz at Tulane in 1949.
Meanwhile, Arkansas’ Joe Adams came in leading the SEC with 16.2 yards per punt return with three returns for TDs but was shut out. LSU has still given up just 6 total punt return yards in 12 games this season.
Mathieu also recovered two fumbles - returning the second for 19 yards - and recorded a team-high eight tackles.
CBS double dip
CBS announcers Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Wolfson, along with several other key members of the CBS production crew, left quickly after the game for a charter flight to Auburn, Ala., where they were to call Saturday’s Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn.
Lundquist said earlier this week the last time he and Danielson did a similar doubleheader was in 2007.
The name game
A number of other well-known names were among those in attendance Saturday.
They included former Tigers Bert Jones, Jared Mitchell, Anthony “Booger” McFarland and pitcher Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants, former LSU golfer David Toms, former Southern All-American Aeneas Williams (Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams), Alcorn State head coach Melvin Spears, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolihan.
LSU’s honorary captains were Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn, former running back Justin Vincent and Jimmy Goodrum.
On LSU’s second play from scrimmage, Jefferson was sacked by Arkansas linebacker Jerico Nelson. The two were teammates at Destrehan High. ... Friday’s crowd of 93,108 missed the Tiger Stadium record of 93,129 set against Florida in 2007 by 21. ... LSU leads series 35-20-2 and is 12-8 since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992. ... Arkansas is 4-14 against No. 1-ranked teams. ... Friday’s game marked the fourth time Arkansas - and first since 1970 ... was involved in a top-five game.
The last word
“There’s no way this football team comes to Atlanta and doesn’t play their best.”
LSU coach Les Miles on next Saturday’s SEC Championship Game against Georgia