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LSU Still Riding a Title Wave

November 29, 2003|From Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. — Matt Mauck made sure the only thing Louisiana State had to worry about was the bowl championship series computers -- not another last-minute comeback by Arkansas.

Mauck threw four touchdown passes in three quarters to send No. 3 LSU into the Southeastern Conference title game and keep the Tigers in contention for the national championship with a 55-24 victory over Arkansas on Friday.

The Razorbacks rallied last year, scoring the winning touchdown with nine seconds left to knock LSU out of the conference championship game.

"Our idea was, 'Score as many as you can,' " Mauck said. "Our guys played really hard. There's no quit in them."

Mauck threw touchdown passes of 10, two, 22 and 37 yards to help LSU (11-1, 7-1 in the SEC) clinch the conference's West Division for the second time in three years.

LSU will play either Georgia, Tennessee or Florida for the conference championship next Saturday in Atlanta. The opponent probably will not be decided until Monday, when the BCS standings are released. If Tennessee beats Kentucky today at Lexington, then the Volunteers, Georgia and Florida will have tied for the SEC East lead with 6-2 records.

Under tiebreaking procedures, the champion will be determined by the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings. In the latest standings, Georgia was No. 7, Tennessee was No. 8 and Florida was No. 11. Georgia plays at Georgia Tech and Florida plays host to Florida State today.

If Kentucky were to beat Tennessee, then the tiebreaker reverts to head-to-head, which would send Florida to the SEC title game because it defeated Georgia.

Not knowing which team the Tigers will face annoyed Coach Nick Saban. It's unfair for the other teams to know who to prepare for while LSU has to guess, he said.

"Sunday is our coaches work day," Saban said. "They need to make a decision if they all win. We need to find out who we're going to play."

With a win, the Tigers could have a chance to play for their first national championship since 1958.

LSU is currently third in the BCS standings that determine which teams play for the title in the Sugar Bowl but could jump ahead of USC with a victory over a quality opponent in the season finale.

Arkansas (8-4, 4-4) fumbled six times and lost three.

"There were so many bad plays on our part that I could not really tell you a turning point," Arkansas free safety Tony Bua said.

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