A Tiger on New Year's Day?

Nov. 26, 2004

Associated Press Writer

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – LSU made sure there wouldn’t be any last-minute heroics by Arkansas this time.

Marcus Randall ran for two touchdowns and threw two more to Joseph Addai, leading No. 14 LSU to a 43-14 victory over Arkansas on Friday.

The Tigers earned a bit of revenge at War Memorial Stadium. Two years ago, the Razorbacks scored with nine seconds left to beat a ranked LSU team by one point.

“This is a difficult place to play,” LSU coach Nick Saban said. “We hadn’t won here in a while and they hadn’t lost here in a while. It was nice to win.”

The victory might have put the Tigers into the 2005 Capital One Bowl. Iowa, the co-champions of the Big Ten Conference, is waiting to learn its opponent in the New Year’s Day event in Orlando. LSU must wait to see the outcome of the Southeastern Conference championship game Dec. 4 between Auburn and Tennesee. Some people believe an Auburn victory sends LSU to Orlando to play Kirk Ferentz’s squad.

Iowa will be making its third straight New Year’s Day appearance when it meets an SEC opponent in the 2005 Capital One Bowl.

The Hawkeyes, winners of seven in a row and owners of a 9-2 overall record, accepted their first-ever invitation to Orlando earlier this week. The invite was Iowa’s third to the state of Florida in three years; the Hawkeyes played Southern Cal in the FedEx Orange Bowl two seasons ago and Florida in the Outback Bowl last year.

Randall was 10-for-14 for 173 yards and had 79 yards rushing. Alley Broussard added 81 yards rushing for the Tigers (9-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference), who ended the game with 26 unanswered points.

“Coach kept reminding us about what happened here two years ago all week. I told coach that I felt comfortable running the ball,” Randall said. “Their defense is pretty simple and our scout team did a great job imitating them all week.”

The loss was Arkansas’ first in 18 games at Little Rock under coach Houston Nutt and keeps the Razorbacks from qualifying for a seventh consecutive bowl game.

Matt Jones, hobbled by a hamstring injury, could not muster the flair that has often sparked the Razorback offense. The senior quarterback and the team’s leading rusher was sacked three times and had minus-10 yards on the ground. Confined to the pocket, he was intercepted twice on 12-of-29 passing for 152 yards and two TD passes.

“We would have scored more if Matt had been healthy,” Nutt said. “It was better than it was last week, but you know when he doesn’t force the option he wasn’t healthy.”

Peyton Hillis ran for 66 yards and Steven Harris had five catches for 57 yards and a touchdown for Arkansas (5-6, 3-5).

Each team scored off a botched special teams play early. Arkansas, trailing 10-7 with 13:31 left in the second quarter, faked a punt on fourth-and-15 in its own territory. Jeremy Davis’ pass was incomplete, and LSU took over on downs.

On the next play, Randall hit Addai for a 29-yard touchdown.

Arkansas again faced fourth-and-long on the ensuing possession and punted. Davis’ kick was short and hit LSU’s Chevis Jackson from behind, glancing off of his feet and rolling toward the goal line. Pierre Brown recovered for Arkansas at the 15, and two plays later Jones threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Harris to make the score 17-14.

The game fell apart for Arkansas after that.

The Tigers moved the ball almost at will throughout the game and, after the first quarter, managed to shut down Arkansas’ offense.

LSU never trailed and led 27-14 at the half. Randall ran for a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter to make it 34-14.

Chris Jackson kicked three field goals, including a career-long 53-yarder.

“We dominated in the second half, which was critical,” Saban said. “We controlled the ball and burned a lot of time. The defense had some good turnovers when the game was still a game. I am really proud of what our team accomplished.”