CHAMPIONSHIP GAME NOTES: LSU 42, Georgia 10
-- Game MVP is LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu. He is the third defensive player to win the award and the first since Florida DT Ellis Johnson did it in 1994. Alabama DB Antonio Langham was the first in 1992. Mathieu is the seventh nonquarterback to take home the honor. Previous LSU MVPs include Matt Mauck in 2001, Justin Vincent in 2003 and Ryan Perrilloux in 2007.
-- Today’s attendance is 74,515.
-- LSU is 4‐1 in championship games. (W‐2001, 2003, 2007, 2011; L‐2005)
-- LSU is 2‐1 against Georgia in the championship game. LSU won 2003, 2011; UGA won 2005.
-- Georgia won the coin toss and deferred. LSU received the opening kickoff.
-- LSU went 3‐and‐out on its seven first half drives, netting 12 yards on 21 plays.
-- LSU’s Kenny Hilliard tied the championship game record with three touchdowns (2 rush, 1 receiving) and points (18). Florida’s Reidel Anthony in 1996 and Alabama’s Mark Ingram in 2009 also share both records.
-- LSU tied the championship game record with three rushing scores done on four previous occasions.
-- The 42 points is the third‐highest total, trailing Auburn’s 56 in 2010 and Florida’s 45 in 1996.
-- The 32‐point margin of victory is the second‐highest total, trailing Auburn’s 39 set in its 56‐17 win over South Carolina in 2010.
-- The 42 unanswered points by LSU is the most in championship game history. The previous was 34 in 1995 (Florida 34, Arkansas 3) and 1999 (Alabama 34, Florida 7).
-- The 35 second half points scored by LSU is the most ever in a championship game. Auburn scored 28 in the 56‐17 victory over South Carolina in 2010.
-- The 21 points scored by LSU in the third quarter is the most by a single team in that period.
-- LSU’s Morris Claiborne became the eighth player to return an interception for a touchdown in the championship game and the first since T’Sharvan Bell of Auburn in 2010.
-- LSU was held to 30 yards passing which is the lowest total in championship game history. The previous low was 69 by Tennessee vs. Auburn in 2004.
-- LSU completed five passes which is the fewest completed by a winning team. Georgia had six in 2005.
-- LSU’s Drew Alleman’s six PATs is the second most in championship game history, trailing Auburn’s Wes Byrum’s 8 in 2010.
-- Aaron Murray’s third quarter fumble recovered by Tyrann Mathieu led to LSU’s first offensive touchdown on Kenny Hilliard’s 15‐yard run. LSU had 21 yards of offense on that two‐play scoring drive after 12 in the first half.
-- The Western Division representative has now won three straight championship games, its longest streak. The Eastern Division leads the overall series 11‐9. The East won six of first seven (6‐1), since then West has won eight of 13 (8‐5).
-- Georgia is 2‐2 in championship games. (W‐2002, 2005; L‐2003, 2011)
-- Georgia was held to 10 points which is the fourth lowest total in championship game history.
-- Georgia’s 51 pass attempts are the most in championship game history, bettering the 49 by Florida in 1992.
-- Georgia ran 85 plays which tied the championship game record held by Auburn in 2004.
-- Georgia’s Blair Walsh’s 40‐yard field goal marked the fourth time a field goal opened scoring in the championship game (2009, 2006, 1995). With that kick, Walsh became the NCAA record holder with a field goal in 44 games, breaking the mark held by Georgia’s Billy Bennett (2000‐03).
ATLANTA (AP) -- LSU slogged its way through a brutal first half. The nation's top-ranked team had only 12 yards and not even a single first down.
The "Honey Badger" didn't care.
He just took what he wanted -- a trip to the national championship game.
Tyrann Mathieu turned in an MVP performance when the Tigers needed him most, running back a punt 62 yards for a touchdown, setting up another score with a fumble recovery and finally finishing off No. 12 Georgia with his best play yet, a whirling dervish of a return that led to the decisive TD of a 42-10 victory in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday.
LSU (13-0) advanced to a spot in the BCS title game in New Orleans, just 75 miles from its Baton Rouge campus. The Tigers opponent will be announced Sunday night, but SEC West rival and No. 2 Alabama -- already beaten by the Tigers 9-6 in overtime a month ago -- had the inside track even though it didn't win its division.
The Bulldogs tried to really shake things up, racing to a 10-0 lead that could've been even bigger if they hadn't dropped a pair of potential touchdown passes in the first quarter. LSU looked downright awful on offense, going three-and-out on all seven of its possessions before halftime.
But, thanks to Mathieu, the deficit was only 10-7 when the teams went to the locker room. He took a punt at his own 38, found an opening and was gone -- all the way to the end zone for his second punt return for a touchdown in as many weeks. Well, almost to the end zone. A replay showed Mathieu flipped the ball to an official just before he crossed the goal line, but no one on the field caught the blunder.
That was long forgotten by the time the fearless sophomore was done.
On Georgia's first possession of the second half, quarterback Aaron Murray tried to scramble for a first down but had the ball knocked loose just before he hit the turf. Who was there to fall on it at the Bulldogs 26?
Mathieu, of course, his fifth fumble recovery of the season.
LSU quickly seized its first lead. The Tigers finally picked up a first down, then freshman Kenny Hilliard broke off a 15-yard run for the first of his three touchdowns. Normally, that would've been more than enough to win the game's MVP award. Not even close on this day.
Mathieu, whose nickname comes from a humorous YouTube video about supposedly the world's more fearless animal ("Honey Badger don't care, he just takes what he wants," the narrator says), dropped back to receive another punt. About the only thing the Bulldogs managed to do was keep him out of the end zone.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder cradled the ball, took off down the center of the field, cut back to his left, stutter-stepped and turned on a burst of speed, basically came to a stop around the Georgia 30, then took off again and was finally dragged down at the 17.
He avoided or broke away from at least eight of the 11 red-clad guys trying to bring him down, a Heisman-worthy play that should be enough to at least get him to New York for the banquet -- if not earn him serious consideration for the award as the nation's top player. Certainly, no defensive player has come up with more big plays.
Mathieu has scored four touchdowns this season: Two on returns, two more from his cornerback spot. He's forced six fumbles. He's picked off two passes. He one of the top tacklers on one of the nation's top defenses.
LSU took control with a 21-point third quarter, coming back from a double-digit deficit for the second week in a row and leaving little doubt that it's the best team in country heading into bowl season. The only other unbeaten team, Houston, was blown out in the Conference USA championship game Saturday. All the other top teams have at least one loss.
If there was ever a year when no playoff was needed, it's this one. The Tigers have knocked off five teams in The Associated Press' current Top 25 -- including three of the top eight. They'll still have to win one more game to claim the BCS title, but a case can be made that they deserve to be voted No. 1 in the AP poll, no matter what happens Jan. 9 in the Big Easy.
SEC East champion Georgia came into the game on a 10-game winning streak, and the Bulldogs showed no fear of LSU in the early going. Murray connected with Tavarres King on a 44-yard pass and could've had a TD when a pass across the middle went through King's hands. They settled for Blair Walsh's 40-yard field goal.
Knowing he would have to throw caution to the wind to pull off the upset against a 13-point favorite, Georgia coach Mark Richt called an onside kick. It worked the perfection, Walsh bouncing the ball off the turf and high into the air. Alec Ogletree soared in to grab the ball beyond the necessary 10 yards, giving the Bulldogs another possession.
They should've scored a touchdown. Instead, they wound up with nothing. Freshman Malcolm Mitchell dropped a pass right in his hands at the LSU 5 with no one around, and Walsh missed a 45-yard try.
But LSU couldn't do anything with the ball. The Tigers' longest play in the first half was 9 yards. Eleven of their 21 plays went for zero or negative yards. Outside of Mathieu, punter Brad Wing was LSU's best field-turning weapon, averaging 54.1 yards on his first seven punts.
Both offenses stalled in the second quarter, managing a grand total of 2 yards -- 1 for each team. Georgia went to the locker room with a commanding 135-12 lead in total yards, but certainly a sense it had missed its chance to put away an LSU team that had outscored No. 6 Arkansas 41-3 after falling into an early 14-0 hole the previous week.
Hilliard scored on a 4-yard run after Mathieu's second big return to make it 21-10, essentially enough to finish off the Bulldogs, but he then hauled in a 8-yard touchdown pass.
The Tigers romped in the final period. Alfred Blue broke off a 48-yard touchdown run and Morris Claiborne returned an interception 45 yards for the final score. LSU won even though Jordan Jefferson completed only five passes and the offense totaled a mere 237 yards.
Murray had a miserable day, completing just 16 of 40 for 163 yards with two interceptions. Georgia's running game was non-existent with Isaiah Crowell hobbling on a sore ankle. The freshman had only 15 yards on 10 carries.