Fayetteville, Ark. – When the ball goes live Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium emotions on both sides of the ball will be in play when Arkansas tries to upset BCS ranked No. 7 LSU.
For the first time in four years the Razorbacks (4-7) season will be over when the regular season is completed. The Hogs have no bowl game to play for but can play spoiler to LSU’s (9-2) slim outside SEC Championship Game and BCS National Championship Game hopes.
LSU needs Auburn to upset Alabama and Texas A&M to lose to Missouri to set up a Georgia verses LSU SEC Championship Game rematch. Should LSU beat Georgia they could slide ahead of Kansas State, Oregon, and Florida in the BCS rankings setting up back-to-back championship game berths for the Tigers.
For the Razorbacks the end to a disappointing season in terms of wins and losses will come to a close, along with the eight month contract of interim head coach John L. Smith.
Razorback Nation will also say goodbye to 22 total seniors and perhaps a couple of redshirt juniors looking for an early entry to the NFL.
Among the seniors playing their last game is senior quarterback Tyler Wilson. Wilson has set school records in passing including completions with 562. He can overtake the Arkansas career passing yards mark with 88 total passing yards. The preseason All-SEC quarterback is currently third on the school’s all-time list behind Clint Stoerner (7,422) and Ryan Mallett (7,493).
With 165 total career receptions Cobi Hamilton only needs to haul in four more passes to break the career mark at Arkansas. Hamilton has a school single-season record of 80 catches for 1,237, both tops in the SEC, and broke the school’s and SEC’s single game record for yards in a game with 303 against Rutgers Sept. 22.
In the Game Match-ups
LSU is known for their punishing play at the line of scrimmage. Arkansas has done a great job of late stopping the opposition’s running game but has not had success keeping Tyler Wilson upright in passing situations on the other side of the ball. Whoever wins the line of scrimmage should eat up the clock and put points on the board.
LSU will continually press the Arkansas offensive line knowing they will, at some point, be able to disrupt the Razorback passing game to create turnovers. LSU took two passes away from MSU and four away from Ole Miss in their last two games.
The bright spot for Arkansas is the Tigers allowed over 300 yards passing in both games. Can the Hogs capitalize on the Tigers sketchy pass defense?
LSU has not thrown the ball well throughout the season but junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger has come on over the last three games starting with his breakout performance against Alabama. During that three-game stretch Mettenberger has thrown for 298 yards against Bama, 273 against Mississippi State, and 282 verses Ole Miss.
Expect Mettenberger to test the young Arkansas secondary early and often. The often overmatched Arkansas safeties and corners have made All-Americans out of ULM, Texas A&M, Rutgers, and South Carolina’s quarterbacks this season. Mettenberger could finally pass the 300 yard mark in a game this season on Friday.
The Hogs are horrible at protecting the ball. Last week against South Carolina they had three fumbles that were on the Razorbacks more so than heads up plays by the Gamecocks’ defense. Tyler Wilson also threw another pick six which does not help the Hogs’ chances of winning games. Another five turnover game against a talented LSU team and this game is ugly quick.
LSU will look to extend their plus 13 on takeaways this year against the Hogs. Expect it to happen.
Wilson and company have nothing left to lose if they play all out against LSU on Friday. The big question is if LSU gets up early will Arkansas lose their fight knowing they have nothing left to play for this year?
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino has jumped out on opponents early but once the opposition has made the necessary adjustments he has not followed suit. Will a 10-0 lead be enough on Friday, doubtful.
Wilson and Hamilton will be determined to go out with a bang but everyone in the stadium, including the defense, knows where Wilson wants to throw the ball. When Wilson spreads the ball around the Hogs have been more successful. Wilson also needs time from the offensive line to check down, will he get the time?
The Tigers’ running game will lean heavily on Jeremy Hill, team-high 554 yards with nine touchdowns.
Expect the Arkansas turnovers plus long stretches of the Hogs defense on the field wear the team down by mid-third quarter if the game is still close then.
LSU 38 – Arkansas 24
Game News and Notes
The Battle for the Boot will take place for the 17th time in the two team’s collective history. The first season the “battle” for the 175 pound trophy began was in 1996.
The Tigers vs. Razorbacks game is being held in Fayetteville for the first time since 1992.
Arkansas senior tight end Chris Gragg will not play against the Tigers due to injury.
Cobi Hamilton needs four catches against LSU to break the career receiving mark for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas wide receiver Brandon Mitchell will return from his four-game suspension on Friday.
Razorback senior linebacker Terrell Williams is scheduled to see action, but not start, against the Tigers after being suspended for two games due to a DUI arrest.
Last time in a Razorback uniform?
Redshirt junior running back Knile Davis wanted to test the waters of the NFL coming off a medical redshirt season in 2011. Davis underperformed in 2012 for various reasons. Will Friday’s game in Razorback Stadium be his last college football game?