Bobby Petrino has been stressing this script for nearly three years.



Build leads with the passing game, then run to close out the game — and the win.

Bobby Petrino has been stressing this script for nearly three years.

Build leads with the passing game, then run to close out the game — and the win.

His No. 8 Razorbacks (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) did just that in Saturday's 31-23 win over LSU. It kept the Razorbacks on track for their first BCS bowl game, likely against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, if Auburn defeats South Carolina for the SEC championship.

"We really felt like our offensive line was taking over the game," Petrino said. "And we wanted to try to go get points, use as much clock as we could and I really didn't plan on making every play a run. It just did it end up that way when we were moving the line of scrimmage, backs were breaking tackles and finishing going forward."

A perfect example came in the fourth quarter. Ahead 28-20, the Razorbacks went on a 13-play, 88-yard drive that led to Zach Hocker's 19-yard field goal and a 31-20 lead.

Arkansas started the drive with a 14-yard completion from quarterback Ryan Mallett to tight end D.J. Williams, but followed that with nine straight runs in moving from its own 10 to the LSU 7.

Sophomore Knile Davis, who finished with 152 yards rushing on 30 carries, carried five times for 47 yards during the nine-play stretch, with junior Broderick Green carrying four times for 22 yards. Arkansas finished with 464 total yards and 144 yards rushing against the Tigers, who entered the game as the top-ranked defense in the SEC.

The ability to run the ball effectively late in games when expected to keep the ball on the ground is something Petrino has been looking for at Arkansas, and he got it on Saturday. After the win, he even second-guessed his decision to throw the ball on second-and-goal from the LSU 7 — a Mallett attempt to Chris Cragg that fell incomplete.

The Tigers then kept Davis out of the end zone on third down, but Hocker's field goal gave the Razorbacks an 11-point lead. The kick all but secured the win for Arkansas, which took 6:03 off the clock on the drive.

"That was a great job," Mallett said. "Obviously we wanted to punch it in at the end. The running game has come along so much and ... for that six minutes we physically imposed our will on them."

Petrino said he wondered how Arkansas would respond after a home loss to Alabama and later to Auburn, but the Razorbacks answered any of his concerns with maturity and hard work. Davis has run for 889 yards and 12 touchdowns in the Razorbacks' six-game winning streak.

"Sometimes you have up and downs," Petrino said. "But our guys just learned how to work hard, learned how to count one each other, take care of each other, truly a team win."

LSU closed the lead to 31-23 with Josh Jasper's 36-yard field goal with 1:58 remaining, and it got the ball back with 49 seconds remaining at its own 12. However, Arkansas' Andru Stewart sacked Tigers' quarterback Jordan Jefferson and forced a fumble that Jerry Franklin recovered.

"I thought we had enough time," Jefferson said. "With Arkansas dropping eight people into coverage, it's hard to complete a pass, but we should have done something."