Arkansas vs. LSU Game Preview


It’s two weeks earlier than normal, but it’s time for LSU to take on Arkansas in the “Battle for the Golden Boot.” This year’s installment will be played in Fayetteville, on Saturday, November 15th, 7pm central standard time, and televised on ESPN2.

LSU is coming off a devastating week where they gave up a 3-point lead with under a minute to play against Alabama. The Tigers lost 20-13 in overtime despite dominating the time of possession statistic. LSU is now 7-3 and ranked No. 20 in the latest Associated Press Poll.

Arkansas is coming off a bye week after losing a heartbreaker at No. 1 Mississippi State. The Hogs are 4-5 on the season and have lost 17 straight SEC games, dating back to the pre-Bielema era. This doesn’t go without stating the Hogs have played many close games with ranked opponents as of late. In 2013, Arkansas lost to LSU at Baton Rouge by a slim margin, blowing the lead late in the fourth quarter. Arkansas playing LSU tough on the road last year, combined with this season’s success covering spreads in Fayetteville could be the reason Arkansas is backed by Vegas line makers this Saturday.

The Hogs are currently a 2 ½ point favorite.

The Weather –

With the threat of weather looming Saturday evening, this battle between southern teams could get very interesting. LSU clearly isn’t comfortable playing in temperatures anywhere under 50 degrees. Making matters worse for Les Miles is his receivers showing signs of “bad hands” last week. It doesn’t get easier for the Tigers’ receiving corps this week with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees and a 40% chance of precipitation.

LSU keys to victory –

The key for LSU is to produce some kind of run game, mix in play-action passes, and control the clock. Arkansas has held Alabama and Mississippi State (two teams currently in the 4-team playoff for the National Championship) to season lows in rushing yards, so nothing will come easy for the Tigers’ running backs. However, the Hogs have allowed many big plays in the secondary and opportunities will be available for Cam Cameron to exploit young, Razorback defenders.

Leonard Fournette is LSU’s leading rusher and while yards per carry average is well under that of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, he is one of the most reliable runners in the SEC. Along with quarterback Anthony Jennings, Fournette could provide for a very tough attack against the solid Arkansas run defense.

Sep 6, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks fans prior to the game against the Nicholls State Colonels at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas keys to victory –

RUN THE BALL! LSU’s run-defense has been spectacular of late, but the Hogs need to get back to what they do the best. Arkansas’ biggest weapon will be Jonathan Williams, who offensive coordinator Jim Chaney simply needs to feed as much as possible. Williams will be a nightmare to tackle in these conditions; like tackling an icy bus.

Arkansas HAS to avoid giving up the big plays on defense this Saturday. The Hogs’ D has been tremendously better from a season ago, but they still allow too many big plays at key points in the game. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith will have to find a way for his guys to play sound and mistake-free in the back seven.

Target Hunter Henry. Henry doesn’t have spectacular numbers receiving, but he is coming off of career highs in catches and yards per game. Henry came up big against Mississippi State and continues to make his case as the best tight end in the nation. Jim Chaney will have to find ways to get Henry the ball if Arkansas hopes to develop anything through the air.

The Fans –

The game could ultimately come down to the fans and that 12th man support the Hogs have in their corner. Arkansas is nearly out of bowl game contention and fans have been unhappy with the play-calling and Brandon Allen. Regardless, if there was ever a time for Red and White faithful to provide a packed house and support their team, its this Saturday night. Head coach Bret Bielema is asking fans to try and get used to the cold weather before attending the game Saturday because every one of his players will rely on the “Woo Pig Sooie” to get through the frigid game.

Eight of the last nine contests between these two teams have been one possession games; therefore, Razorback Nation should expect a game of the year candidate. It’s time for the Hogs to re-capture the “Golden Boot” and finally put an end to the dreaded, SEC losing streak.