LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) makes a leaping reception for a 22-yard scoring play against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Jarvis Landry helped LSU keep an SEC championship within reach.
Landry made a spectacular, reaching, one-handed touchdown catch and the eighth-ranked Tigers held on for a 20-13 win over Arkansas on Friday.
Zach Mettenberger passed for 217 yards and hooked up with Landry for the play of the day with 1:12 left in the first half to put LSU up 10-0. The Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) reached double-digit wins for the sixth time in eight seasons under coach Les Miles.
LSU must now hope for an Alabama loss to Auburn and Texas A&M victory on Saturday in order to reach next weekend’s SEC championship game. Even without a division crown, the Tigers could still get an at-large bid to the BCS.
Tyler Wilson was 31 of 52 passing for the Razorbacks (4-8, 2-6), whose fall from preseason top 10 is now complete. The senior set the school record for career passing yards in the loss.
Arkansas’ Cobi Hamilton set the school record for receptions in a career with 175.
The Tigers took at 17-3 lead early in the second quarter after a 1-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Hill, who finished with 77 yards rushing on 18 carries. The touchdown followed an 86-yard kickoff return by Michael Ford to the Arkansas 9.
It also appeared to be the clincher for LSU against a Razorbacks team that struggled mightily in its first season following the April firing of former coach Bobby Petrino. Arkansas was 21-5 the last two seasons and entered the season with SEC and national championship expectations, but it was eliminated from the bowl picture following last week’s loss at Mississippi State.
The Razorbacks, however, rallied behind the record-setting combination of Wilson and Hamilton.
Wilson passed former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet’s mark of 7,493 yards passing in the second quarter, finishing with 359 yards in the game and 7,765 yards for his career, and his 28-yard touchdown pass to freshman Mekale McKay in the third quarter closed the LSU lead to 17-10.
After forcing a Tigers’ punt, the Razorbacks used a key fourth-and-1 conversion to set up another scoring opportunity. Wilson found Jonathan Williams for a 37-yard completion on the fourth down at midfield, helping to set up a second-and-goal at the LSU 1.
Arkansas was unable, however, to find the end zone on its next two plays. Interim coach John L. Smith then elected to kick a 17-yard field goal, which backup kicker John Henson converted to close the Tigers’ lead to 17-13.
The Razorbacks couldn’t find the end zone again, bringing a likely end to the Arkansas career of Smith — who was signed to a 10-month contract following Petrino’s firing. The Razorbacks had one final chance in the closing seconds, but Wilson’s second-down attempt from the LSU 18 was over the head of McKay.
LSU’s final score came on a 27-yard field goal by Drew Alleman with 1:26 remaining, giving it a 20-13 lead. The score came after a key third-down completion from Mettenberger to Odell Beckham, who finished with eight catches for 112 yards.
The Tigers led 10-0 at halftime in their first game in Fayetteville since 1992. They did so despite gaining the same 165 yards of total offense as the Razorbacks, whose season-long series of miscues continued in the half.
Arkansas, next to last in the SEC in red-zone offense, squandered three scoring opportunities in the half. Dennis Johnson fumbled near the LSU goal line on the game’s opening drive, and kicker Zach Hocker misfired on a pair of field goal attempts before being benched in favor of Henson in the second half.
LSU’s first touchdown came late in the first half when Mettenberger found Landry in the back of the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown. Landry had to reach back over his wrong shoulder to stretch out and snare the ball with his right hand, landing well in bounds.
Hamilton finished with 10 catches for 98 yards in his final game at Arkansas, finishing his career with 175 catches. His record broke the former mark of 168 catches, set last year by Minnesota Vikings’ rookie Jarius Wright.
LSU was outgained 462-306 by the Razorbacks.
Kent State 28,
KENT, Ohio — C.J. Malauulu returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown — 12 seconds after another Kent State TD — and the No. 23 Golden Flashes completed a perfect season in the Mid-American Conference with their 10th straight win, 28-6 over Ohio on Friday.
The regular-season finale was a tuneup for Kent State (11-1, 8-0 MAC), which will meet No. 24 Northern Illinois in next week’s MAC championship. The win allowed the Golden Flashes to continue the best season in the program’s 90-year history. They are ranked for the first time since 1972, the last time they appeared in a bowl game.
Trayion Durham rushed for 97 yards and scored on a 15-yard run in the first quarter to put Kent State ahead 14-0.
On Ohio’s next play, Malauulu picked off Tyler Tettleton and scored.
The Bobcats (8-4, 4-4) lost four of their last five after cracking the Top 25.
With representatives from the Military and GoDaddy.com bowls on hand, the Golden Flashes put on a dazzling show early before the game bogged down into a puntfest. But Kent State took advantage of Ohio’s mistakes in the opening quarter and did enough to pad its bowl resume.
The Golden Flashes entered the season hoping to build on a strong finish in 2011, when they won four of their last five.
But no one could have expected such a dramatic turnaround in coach Darrell Hazell’s second season, which will have at least two more games.
Kent State is the first MAC East school to go 8-0 in conference play since 2003, when Miami did it behind senior quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The Golden Flashes came in leading all FBS schools in turnover margin, and they wasted little time forcing the Bobcats, who seemed sleepy with an 11 a.m. kickoff, to cough up the ball.
Kent State scored two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter — one on a 50-yard fumble return, the other on Malauulu’s pick — to stun Ohio and open a 21-0 lead.
Just 12 seconds after Durham’s 15-yard burst, aided by some bad tackling, made it 14-0, Malauulu, a senior from Oceanside, Calif., picked off Tettleton in the middle of the field. He found some blocks down the left sideline and dived inside the front pylon for the score, which survived a video replay.
Earlier, Malauulu stripped running back Beau Blankenship and Kent State’s Luke Wollet fielded a one-hopper off the turf and sprinted half the field to make it 7-0.
Ohio managed a 33-yard field goal by Matt Weller to close the quarter, but the Bobcats were down 18 despite outgaining the Golden Flashes, running more than twice as many offensive plays and holding the ball for eight more minutes.
Weller’s 41-yard field goal with 15 seconds left before halftime trimmed Kent State’s lead to 21-6 and sent Ohio’s players to the locker room with some confidence after being on the verge of a blowout loss.
But the Bobcats, who also hurt themselves with penalties in the first half, couldn’t get anything going on offense after halftime. Still, they were hanging around in the fourth quarter before Kent State’s Spencer Keith hit Eric Adeyemi for a 24-yard TD to make it 28-6.
Following the game, Kent State’s players paused on the way to the locker room and each rang a victory bell.
Once ignored, the Golden Flashes are making some noise.
N. Illinois 49,
E. Michigan 7
YPSILANTI, Mich. — Jordan Lynch ran for 114 yards and Akeem Daniels scored a career-best four touchdowns as No. 24 Northern Illinois won its 11th straight game, 49-7 against Eastern Michigan on a cold and snowy Saturday.
Daniels scored on runs of 25 and 20 yards in the first half and finished with a career-high 112 yards on 12 carries to help the Huskies (11-1, 8-0) cap a perfect run through the Mid-American Conference.
He added touchdowns carries from 19 and 16 yards out in the second half.
Lynch, a week removed from a 407-yard passing performance, was 16 for 25 for 168 yards but extended his FBS record streak of 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback. He had 20 carries to crack the century mark for the 10th straight game.
The West division winners will go for a second straight conference title when they face No. 23 Kent State in next week’s championship game. The Huskies have defeated 15 straight MAC opponents.
Eastern Michigan (2-10, 1-7) tied the game 7-7 late in the first quarter but Northern Illinois needed just 15 seconds to retake the lead.
Tommylee Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards to score the first of three straight touchdowns that gave the Huskies a 28-7 lead at intermission.
The return touchdown, the third of his career, set a new school record.
It was 38 degrees and windy at kickoff and snow flurries covered the artificial surface early in the second quarter. The Huskies mostly kept the ball on the ground after that but got a 43-yard touchdown pass from Lynch to Martel Moore in the final minute of the half.
Sean Evans intercepted Eagles quarterback Tyler Benz early in the fourth quarter to set up Daniels’ final touchdown run and Jacob Brinlee added an 11-yard scoring run in the final minutes of the game.
Moore had nine catches for 116 yards to become the first Huskies receiver with 1,000 yards in a season since 2005.
EMU, which hosted a ranked opponent for the first time in school history, fell to 0-7 all-time against Top-25 teams.
Benz was 10 for 22 for 96 yards and hit Matt Boyd with a 20-yard strike for the Eagles’ only touchdown. The Huskies sacked him three times.
The snow stopped at halftime but persistent, chilly winds shooed most of the crowd by the start of the fourth quarter. Northern Illinois will find the conditions much better next week when it plays for the conference title in climate-controlled Ford Field in Detroit.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Rex Burkhead scored the go-ahead touchdown in his return from a knee injury and No. 17 Nebraska beat Iowa 13-7 on Friday to secure a spot in the Big Ten title game.
The Huskers (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) will face off against Wisconsin next Saturday in Indianapolis. It’ll be a rematch of Nebraska’s thrilling 30-27 home win over the Badgers in late September.
Burkhead, making his first appearance since aggravating a sprained left knee on Oct. 20 against Northwestern, broke through with a 3-yard TD run to make it 13-7 late in the third quarter.
Alonzo Whaley’s interception with 2:11 left sealed the victory for Nebraska.
The Huskers defense held the Hawkeyes (4-8, 2-6) scoreless in the final three quarters in windy conditions.
Mark Weisman had 91 yards rushing for Iowa, which finished the season on a six-game losing streak. The Hawkeyes will miss out on a bowl game for just the second time since 2000.
Nebraska’s offense spent much of the day stifled by a stiff wind that gisted up to 40 mph and a surprisingly stout Iowa defense.
Fittingly, quarterback Taylor Martinez and Burkhead teamed up to put the Huskers ahead.
Martinez beat quadruple coverage for an 18-yard completion to Braylon Heard, an impressive hookup considering the conditions. Burkhead was in the end zone a few plays later to make it 13-7 with 3:10 left in the third quarter.
Iowa pinned Nebraska at the 1 with 12:03 left, but Burkhead willed the Huskers out of harm’s way with runs of 9 and 8 yards into the wind.
Though the Huskers were later forced to punt, Burkhead helped them avoid the worst while burning valuable minutes off the clock.
Burkhead finished with 69 yards rushing — all in the second half.
A mild fall in the Midwest came to an abrupt end on Friday.
During the national anthem, the breeze at Kinnick Stadium was so strong it nearly blew over the American flag — and the man holding it. The wind chill hovered in the teens all day.
The conditions made passing a risky venture. Martinez threw for just 63 yards, while Iowa’s James Vandenberg had 92 yards passing and two picks.
Nebraska threw just once on a 16-play drive that led to a field goal, and Iowa did the same on a 62-yard drive that led to a 1-yard plunge from Vandenberg and a 7-3 lead it held at halftime.
The Huskers muffed a punt and Martinez fumbled and nearly threw a pick in the second quarter. But Iowa’s offense, which was lackluster all season, couldn’t turn those miscues into points.
The year-long ineptitude of Iowa’s offense reached its nadir late in the first half. They were penalized for having too many men on the field — even though they were coming out of a timeout — and Mike Meyer followed with a missed field goal.
The Huskers had the wind at their backs to start the second half, allowing Brett Maher to nail a 52-yard field goal.
Nebraska finished with a 7-1 conference mark for the first time since 2001, when it posted the same mark in the Big 12.
With one more Big Ten win next weekend, Nebraska is headed to the Rose Bowl.
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