Scenarios: If LSU wins, they win the SEC West and, almost undoubtedly, reach the BCS Title Game. If they don’t lose badly, they probably still edge Arkansas in the BCS standings and win the SEC West on a tiebreaker, progressing to the title game with a win over Georgia. To win the SEC West, Arkansas must win and needs Alabama to lose the Iron Bowl.
Overshadowed: Second-year Arkansas tight end Garrett Uekman died last weekend. Arkansas cancelled their media availability. It’s noteworthy, but it’s not clear if or how this will affect the team’s performance.
Arkansas With the Ball: The Razorbacks are the SEC’s lone offensive juggernaut. Alabama is the only other conference member in the top 40 in yards per play. Arkansas presents a similar challenge to the West Virginia game – very good quarterback, array of talented wide receivers – when the Tigers conceded 463 yards through the air. Those 463 yards, however, came on 65 attempts (just 7.1 YPA). Geno Smith had his worst passer rating of the season. His two INTs set up LSU in field positions for touchdowns and the Tigers won by 26.
The critical matchup should Jarius Wright, far and away Arkansas’ best receiver, against Morris Claibourne, perhaps the nation’s best cover corner. Wright has 407 yards more than the the Razorbacks’ next most prolific receiver and more touchdowns than the rest of the wide receivers and tight ends combined.
Its questionable whether Arkansas can show enough balance to keep LSU honest. They have run the ball decently of late, but the 17 yards on 19 carries against Alabama is glaring.
LSU With the Ball: The key to LSU is stopping the run and forcing the game into the quarterbacks’ unsure hands. The Tigers don’t want to pass. Jefferson and Lee combined for just 27 attempts the past two games against Western Kentucky and Ole Miss. They ran for 644 yards on 90 carries. Arkansas has played stoutly against the run the past three weeks, though that was against Lattimore-less South Carolina, Mississippi State (9th in SEC) and Tennessee (12th in SEC).
The Razorbacks could help themselves greatly by building an early lead. LSU’s offense is not built to come from behind in games. They have not faced such a situation yet this season. The only teams to take a lead on the Tigers have been Alabama and Oregon. LSU has not trailed by more than four points.
Recent History: This rivalry has been evenly matched recently. The last six games have been within one score. Four of those have been within a field goal. Petrino is 2-1 against Miles in their three meetings.
Tiger Bait: LSU are 12-point favorites in this game. Outside of “The Game of the Century,” the Tigers’ closest margins were 13 points, 40-27 over Oregon and 19-6 over Mississippi State. Those were their first two games of the season. Their closest game in Baton Rouge was a 35-7 win over Kentucky.
Prediction: Arkansas played the one other team of LSU’s caliber, and got dismantled. The Tigers blunt the Razorbacks’ biggest challenge. Les Miles’ team is playing on its home grass. There’s no real reason to assume these teams are of the same caliber. That manifests itself on the field. LSU 27-10 Arkansas.
[Photo via Getty]