When Arkansas(5-4, 3-2) travels to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers (7-1, 4-1) for the 61st time in the long storied tradition of the two programs, more will be at stake than just the Golden Boot, as both squads still have an outside shot to claim a share of the SEC West title.
Arkansas rolls into Death Valley after unseating then-No. 19 Ole Miss 53-52 in overtime. The Hogs' win was far from usual needing a 15-yard backward heave from tight end Hunter Henry on fourth-and-25 landing miraculously in front of All-SEC running back Alex Collins who then scrambled for 31 yards to pick up the first down. The Hogs scored the needed touchdown but decided to go for the win on the road against the Rebels on a two-point conversion instead of opting for another overtime session. On the first two-point conversion attempt, starting quarterback Brandon Allen was stopped for a loss — game over, but a facemask call gave Arkansas a second shot seeing Allen run the ball in for the winning score.
LSU returns home after a humbling 30-16 road loss to then- No. 4 Alabama. The loss knocked the Tigers from the ranks of the undefeated putting them in a tie with the Crimson Tide atop the SEC West but with Bama holding the head-to-head tie-breaker. LSU was limited to 182 yards in the loss with just 54 yards gained on the ground, 31 by Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette.
Arkansas and LSU seemingly always play one another tough no matter how well either team is playing until they meet on the field in November. Since the Golden Boot was introduced in 1996, LSU has taken home the rivalry trophy 11 times to Arkansas’ seven wins.
College Football Podcast: Week 11 Preview
Arkansas at LSU
Time: 7:15 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Line: LSU -8
Three Things to Watch
1. Leonard Fournette vs. Arkansas Rush Defense
Despite Fournette’s season low 31 rushing yards put up against Alabama, the sophomore is still leading the nation with 1,383 yards on the ground. One thing the Arkansas defense does well is stop the run. The Hogs are ranked No. 27 in the nation limiting teams to 129 yards per game.
When the Razorbacks upset the No. 17 ranked Tigers 17-0 in Fayetteville a year ago, Arkansas was able to shut down the LSU offense holding the Tigers to 123 total yards. Yes, Fournette was on the team last year and did play but only got five touches. It's doubtful head coach Les Miles will let his team leave the field until the Tigers have the “W” or Fournette has touched the ball at least 30 times if needed.
2. Brandon Allen vs. LSU Pass Defense
Just like LSU, Arkansas likes to run the ball and grind it out, but this year senior quarterback Brandon Allen has come into his own for the Hogs. Allen leads the SEC in quarterback rating with a 164.7 and his second in the conference with 2,476 yards and 21 touchdowns against just five picks.
LSU may like the moniker of “DBU” for Defensive Back University but this group of Tigers has fallen off the tone set in years past. LSU has the nation’s No. 60 ranked pass defense allowing 217 per contest. Arkansas has a stable of weapons to throw at the LSU secondary led by All-SEC tight end Hunter Henry (34/469/2), junior receiver Drew Morgan (44/620/9), and emerging junior college transfer Dominique Reed (18/342/5).
3. Weakness vs. Weakness: Arkansas Rush Offense vs. LSU Passing Offense
The counterbalance to the game will be how either offense can pick up needed yards. For Arkansas, running the ball against LSU’s No. 16 ranked run defense will be a big factor. For LSU, passing the ball against Arkansas’ porous pass defense.
LSU is only allowing 113 yards per game on the ground, while Arkansas is picking up 192 yards per game.
LSU’s passing offense is statistically one of the worst in the nation, ranked No. 116 producing 153 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the Razorbacks have one of the worst pass defenses in the nation ranked No. 114 giving up 284 yards per.
Arkansas has to hope Collins can turn in a Derrick Henry kind of game after the Bama running back rumbled for 210 yards on 38 carries with three touchdowns. On the other side, LSU is looking for sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris to torch the Arkansas defense the way Ole Miss’ quarterback Chad Kelly did passing for 368 yards with three touchdowns and rushing for 110 yards on 11 carries with three more touchdowns.
Both teams are coming off physical games against tough teams, so neither team will come into the battle fresh. Both teams have something to play for going forward, hoping Alabama falls one more time to an in-conference opponent allowing the winner of the Arkansas vs. LSU game to sneak back into the SEC West championship race, if both can win out.
Arkansas is a little more balanced on offense, able to move the ball with Allen’s arm if the run game is stopped. LSU has trouble moving the ball down the field if Fournette is not running wild. The Hogs beat essentially the same squad a year ago so there will be no shock value playing a Top 10 team at play. The early evening start time will not stop but will slow the Geaux Tigers crowd as night games tend to get wild.
The team with the most forward momentum is Arkansas. The question is how much gas is left in LSU’s tank after the Alabama defeat?
Prediction: Arkansas 28, LSU 21
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.