LSU wins SEC title, sets up likely rematch with Alabama

Top-ranked LSU was able to shake off a slow start for the second straight week and roll to a lopsided victory, cementing their spot in the BCS national championship game with a 42-10 win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference final Saturday.

LSU’s opponent will be announced Sunday, but it appears it will have a rematch with Alabama for the national championship on Jan. 9 in New Orleans. LSU defeated the Crimson Tide 9-6 in overtime on Nov. 5.

The Tigers (13-0) extended the nation’s longest active winning streak to 14 games Saturday and claimed their 11th SEC title while snapping Georgia’s 10-game winning streak.

But it was very much in doubt at halftime. Georgia (10-3) held LSU without a first down in the first half – the first time that has happened in the SEC title game since Georgia did the same to Arkansas in 2002 – and led 10-7 at halftime.

The Bulldogs’ cushion could have been much larger. Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell dropped sure touchdown passes on Georgia’s first two possessions, leading to a pair of field goal attempts, one of which failed.

Like they did last week against Arkansas, when they rallied from a 14-0 deficit for a 41-17 victory, the Tigers clawed back.

After being held to 12 total yards in the first half, the SEC’s top scoring offense erupted in the second half, with plenty of help from one of the nation’s top defenses and an electric special teams unit.

LSU took back some of the momentum before halftime on Tyrann Mathieu’s 62-yard punt return touchdown – on which video replays later showed Mathieu tossing the ball to an official before the ball crossed the goal line – and seized it for good after two more plays by Mathieu set up quick scores early in the third quarter.

Mathieu recovered Aaron Murray’s fumble that led to Kenny Hilliard’s 15-yard touchdown run for a 14-10 LSU lead, and Mathieu’s 47-yard punt return set up Hilliard’s second touchdown run from four yards out.

Hilliard also caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Jefferson, scoring on three consecutive possessions.

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