Arkansas football gives LSU the boot in overtime to win Battle of the Golden Boot

Christina Long
Fort Smith Times Record

BATON ROUGE, La. — It wasn't pretty, but No. 25 Arkansas got its first win over LSU since 2015 on Saturday night in Death Valley on a game-winning field goal by Cam Little in overtime. Arkansas (7-3, 3-3 SEC) held on in a close contest to beat LSU (4-6, 2-5 SEC) and improve its bowl prospects.

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There were turnovers, a fake field goal and many failed third-down conversions. Here are five key takeaways from Arkansas' tight road victory.

Defense keeps it close

Arkansas' half of the offensive stat sheet wouldn't exactly indicate a winner. It was the defense that kept the Razorbacks alive as the offense stalled time and again in the first half before it got going in the third quarter. As Arkansas went three-and-out six times on offense, the defense forced three three-and-outs against LSU. 

The defense recovered a fumbled snap on a botched play from the wildcat formation in the first half and picked off Garrett Nussmeier in the second half, but the offense couldn't turn either opportunity into points. Arkansas' half of the stat sheet wasn't pretty, but thanks to the defense, neither was LSU's.

Slow start

Arkansas had trouble moving the ball in the first half. The Razorbacks had six first downs in the first 30 minutes of play, and four of those came late in the second quarter. They converted 1 of 8 third downs in the same period.

Several times on third down, Arkansas opted for short or lateral passes, twice passing for minus-3 yards on third down. Its longest ball of the first half was KJ Jefferson's first throw, an 18-yard reception by Blake Kern. Jefferson threw for just 34 yards in the half, and the Razorbacks averaged 3.3 yards per play.

The running game wasn't much stronger, with Arkansas' SEC-leading rushing attack collecting 80 yards excluding sacks in the first half.

Penalty woes continue

In its close win over Mississippi State the prior week, Arkansas was called for 11 penalties for 84 yards. Coach Sam Pittman emphasized the need to clean up penalties, especially pre-snap flags, but the penalty issues came up once again in Death Valley.

In the first quarter alone, Arkansas was penalized five times for 30 yards, including an offside and a false start. LSU, on the other hand, had one penalty for 10 yards in the same period.

At the start of the second half, Treylon Burks picked up a 19-yard gain that was cut to 11 after a holding call, Arkansas' sixth penalty of the game.

And on a huge fourth-and-1 late in the fourth quarter, Arkansas was called for an illegal formation to make it fourth-and-6. The Razorbacks punted.

Nussmeier gets the ball for LSU

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said before the game that both Max Johnson and Garrett Nussmeier would see snaps at quarterback for the Tigers. Johnson started, as he has all season, but on LSU's third drive, freshman Nussmeier took over. He remained in the game from then on, including in overtime, and threw for 179 yards on 31 attempts. He completed 58% of his passes and threw two interceptions.

Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks. You can email her at or follow her on Twitter @christinalong00.