BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Joe Burrow passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for a career-high 188 yards and three TDs and No. 1 LSU clinched its first trip since to the Southeastern Conference championship game since 2011 with a 56-20 victory over reeling Arkansas on Saturday night.
LSU (11-0, 7-0) can finish no worse than a tie for first with Alabama (10-1, 6-1) and owns the tiebreaker by virtue of the Tigers’ 46-41 triumph in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9.
Burrow’s first touchdown was a 37-yarder on the game’s first possession to Ja’Marr Chase, and the two connected on a 50-yarder in the third quarter on which Burrow eclipsed 4,000 yards for the season and Chase increased in single-season LSU record for TD catches to 15.
Burrow’s other touchdown toss came on a short crossing route to Justin Jefferson, who ran the last few yards of the 10-yard scoring play.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored on runs of 89, 27 and 26 yards, each time leaving at least one defensive back grasping at air, to give him 14 TDs rushing this season. His 89-yard run was a career-long on which he would not be denied; he was caught from behind but used a high-step to slip the tackle before resuming his gallop to the goal line as the Tiger Stadium crowd roared for a Baton Rouge native having a career night.
Interim coach Barry Lunney Jr. started freshman quarterback KJ Jefferson, who exhibited potential and athleticism, if not consistency. Jefferson, the fourth starting QB for the Razorbacks this season, completed 7 of 14 for 105 yards without a turnover. He was also looked effective rushing at times, but his total in that department was skewed by three sacks.
Blitzing No. 1 LSU defensive back Jacoby Stevens dragged down Jefferson all three times and also batted a pass right back at him, which Jefferson caught for a completion to himself, albeit for a loss of 8 when Stevens immediately smothered him.
The Razorbacks (2-9, 0-7), who’ve lost eight straight, were as close as 7-6 in the second quarter after Jefferson led them to their second field goal — a 47-yarder by Connor Limpert.
That’s when LSU, which had stalled on its second and third possessions, began to pull away. Burrow completed four quick passes for 66 yards to set up Tyrion Davis-Price’s 2-yard touchdown to make it 14-6. By halftime, the Tigers led 28-6.
LSU led 56-6 on John Emery’s 39-yard run before Arkansas scored two late touchdowns, the second coming after an onside kick that squirted to the LSU 11 before the Razorbacks recovered.
Arkansas: Lunney had the Hogs energized and playing hard throughout. They lost by less than the six-TD spread set by Las Vegas odds makers. Meanwhile, Jefferson was making a solid case to keep the starting job another week but left the game after taking a hard hit as he threw.
LSU: Burrow, a front-running candidate for the Heisman Trophy, continued building his credentials for college football’s most prestigious award. He completed 82 percent of his passes against Arkansas and now has 4,014 yards and 41 TDs passing this season, both LSU single-season records. Edwards-Helaire has been virtually unstoppable in LSU’s past four games, during which he’s piled up 814 yards (599 rushing, 215 receiving) and nine TDs (eight rushing) from scrimmage.
Arkansas: Tries to avoid a second-straight season with fewer than three victories when the Hogs host Missouri on Friday in their season finale.
LSU: Looks to close out its first unbeaten regular season since 2011 when the Tigers host Texas A&M on Saturday.