Tigers Badger Dawgs, 42-10 for SEC championship

LSU couldn't even get a first down in the first half Saturday.

But the Honey Badger didn't care.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU's spark plug cornerback and punt returner, kept LSU in the SEC championship game with a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first half, then added another long return and a fumble recovery that sparked No. 1 LSU's 42-10 win over No. 14 Georgia at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

LSU (13-0) tied a school record for wins in a season and guaranteed itself a spot in the BCS national championship game Dec. 9 in New Orleans where it will likely have a rematch with Alabama, the only team that stayed close to the Tigers this year. Oklahoma State could stay in contention with a win over Oklahoma tonight.

"There was no question we were going to show ourselves and play like we came to play," said Miles, whose team rebounded from a 10-0 deficit, the second straight week LSU trailed by a double-figure margin early, only to rally to win.

Running back Kenny Hilliard scored three touchdowns for LSU - two rushing and one receiving - to lead the Tigers offense. But there was precious little offense for the game's first half.

The Tigers went 3-and-out on every first-half possession, but only trailed 10-7 at halftime thanks to Mathieu's electrifying 62-yard weave of a punt return for a touchdown that pulled LSU within 10-7 in the second quarter. Georgia (10-3) also blew several chances to add points with two dropped touchdown passes and several other drops.

"Mathieu got it started with a great punt return and we just seemed to do the things we needed to do to win," Miles said.

Mathieu said he knew his team needed the boost.

"I think my team looked forward to me making that big-time play and trying to change the momentum of the game," said Mathieu, who also returned a punt for a touchdown in LSU's 41-17 win over Arkansas, a game where the Tigers fell behind 14-0. "I didn't try to do too much when I got the ball in my hand. I just tried to make one guy miss, then go to the end zone."

Mathieu also had a 47-yard punt return in the third quarter.

LSU's offense adjusted at halftime and sparked by a fumble by Aaron Murray forced by Michael Brockers and recovered by Mathieu, the Tigers took off.

Murray finished 16-for-40 for 163 with three turnovers, the fumble and interceptions by Tharold Simon and Morris Claiborne, who ran his back for LSU's last score in the fourth quarter.

Alfred Blue had a team-high 94 yards on 8 carries while Hilliard carried eight times for 72 yards as the Tigers, stymied in the first half, rushed for 207 yards for the game.

That more than made up for the fact that quarterback Jordan Jefferson had an awful day, completing 5 of 13 passes for just 30 yards. Despite Jefferson's struggles, Jarrett Lee never entered the game until he took a knee on the game's last play.

Now, LSU turns its attention to New Orleans.

"We can turn our attentions now fully on that game," Miles said. "To pretend this team here wasn't looking at that game kind of all along was hard for me to say, but now, there is just one game to play."