FAYETTEVILLE, Ark . — Brad Wing picked up a stat sheet in the interview room and quickly searched for the punting numbers.
His line: six punts for a 48.2-yard average. Arkansas’ punt returns: two for a loss of 7 yards.
In a season full of ups and downs and kicks that sometimes went sideways, Wing was king Friday, a major player in the LSU Tigers’ tense 20-13 victory over the Razorbacks.
“His change of field position was a real advantage for us,” coach Les Miles said. “He was a very key factor in the game.”
A first-team All-American in 2011, Wing and LSU came in fourth in the Southeastern Conference in individual and net punting, averaging 44.4 and 40.1 yards. On the day, LSU’s punting game netted 49.3 yards per kick.
“Both defenses were playing well, and we didn’t want to give them the short field,” Wing said. “Our guys did a great job covering them and eliminating returns.”
Thanks in part to Wing, Arkansas never started a drive on LSU’s half of the field after a punt. He had a long of 69 yards in the fourth quarter that bounded into the end zone with the Tigers clinging to a 17-13 lead.
LSU has a chance to play in the SEC Championship Game next Saturday but, in truth, a couple of weeks off until bowl preparations begin wouldn’t hurt the Tigers, either.
LSU cornerback Tharold Simon limped off with an ankle injury with 13:01 left in the first quarter but returned and intercepted Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson later in the quarter.
Arkansas linebacker A.J. Turner was helped off the field with 3:41 left in the second quarter but later returned.
LSU strong safety Craig Loston limped off with 11:37 left in the third quarter with what Miles said was an ankle injury. He went to the Tigers’ locker room but returned to the sideline.
LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow and defensive tackle Josh Downs were injured with 34 seconds left in the third quarter and limped off. Barrow, who said his knee got twisted, later returned.
Arkansas fullback Morgan Linton was injured trying to make a catch near the LSU goal line with 12:54 remaining. Linton lay on the field for several moments before being able to walk off.
Arkansas wide receiver Cobi Hamilton was injured with 9:42 left after making a short catch but walked off.
Jeremy Hill scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter, his 10th rushing touchdown this season. Hill tied Justin Vincent (2003) for the most rushing touchdowns by an LSU freshman since Dalton Hilliard had 11 in 1982.
LSU forced two Arkansas turnovers, giving the Tigers an SEC-best 31 takeaways. Arkansas has committed 31 turnovers, most in the SEC.
Junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for 217 yards — his fourth straight 200-yard passing game — to give him 2,489 yards for the season. That’s good for seventh in LSU history, just ahead of Matt Flynn (2,407 in 2007).
Senior kicker Drew Alleman made two field goals — including a career-long 49-yarder — to give him 34 for his career. He moved into seventh on LSU’s all-time list, one ahead of Mike Conway (1975-78) and Pedro Suarez (1990-92).
With LSU facing a critical third-and-4 at the Arkansas 39, a flag was thrown for delay of game with 2:01 left in the second quarter.
But the Tigers were credited with calling a timeout from the bench before the play clock expired.
During the commercial break, the Arkansas bench was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, the 15-yard penalty giving LSU a first down at the 24.
Three plays later, Mettenberger hit Jarvis Landry with a 22-yard touchdown pass as he made a spectacular one-handed grab in the back of the end zone.
Arkansas’ coaching staff was flagged for a similar penalty last week in a 45-14 loss at Mississippi State.
LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery was initially credited with partially blocking Zach Hocker’s 40-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, but the Arkansas stat crew reviewed the block and credited it to Bennie Logan instead.
Wilson became the Razorbacks’ all-time leading passer. His 359 yards gave him 7,765 for his career, passing Ryan Mallett (7,493, 2009-10).
Wilson’s top target, wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, had 10 catches to become Arkansas’ all-time leading receiver with 175. The record of 168 had been held by Jarius Wright (2008-11).
After finishing 10-2 and 6-2 in Southeastern Conference play, LSU can reach the SEC Championship Game if Texas A&M (9-2, 5-2) beats Missouri on Saturday and Alabama (10-1, 6-1) loses to Auburn. That would force a three-way tie atop the SEC West. All three teams have beaten one another head-to-head, and the next tiebreaker is divisional record. LSU and A&M would be 5-1, and Alabama (4-2) would be eliminated. The tiebreaker formula then would revert to head-to-head, with the Tigers advancing because they beat the Aggies.
To be eligible for a BCS bowl, LSU likely would need Florida to lose Saturday to Florida State. The Gators (10-1, 7-1) are No. 4 in the BCS standings and would be virtually certain to become an automatic at-large selection if they remain in the top four in the final BCS standings. Only two teams from each conference may go to BCS bowls unless a conference has the Nos. 1 and 2 teams and a third eligible team that is the conference champion.
The Tigers are 28-7 under Miles in games decided by seven points or fewer. … LSU leads the Arkansas series 36-20-2. This was just LSU’s second game in Fayetteville, the other being a 30-6 loss in 1992. … Former Southern track athlete and women’s assistant basketball coach Will Collier is now an academic counselor for the Arkansas football team. … Arkansas recognized 22 seniors on the field before the game, along with former Razorback golfer and LPGA Player of the Year Stacy Lewis.
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