The Arkansas Razorbacks return home this week to face the LSU Tigers in the annual Battle for the Boot.
The Razorbacks are out of bowl contention and are playing for the pride of their team and their fans that endured a season of hardships that began when former head coach Bobby Petrino wrecked his motorcycle and his team’s chances at a national title last spring.
Seniors Tyler Wilson, Cobi Hamilton and Dennis Johnson will be playing their last college game in a Razorbacks uniform. Emotions will be running high.
Razorback Nation will be hoping for a result similar to the trophy game in 2007 when unranked Arkansas upset No. 1 LSU 50-48 in Baton Rouge.
LSU is out of the national championship picture but still has hopes of winning an SEC title if a few other results in the conference this week go its way.
Here is the complete game preview to the Battle for the Boot.
Who: LSU Tigers vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
When: Friday, November 23, 2:30 pm EST
Where: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Stadium: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
Radio: KEZA FM 107.9 (Fayetteville, AR.)
KABZ FM 103.7 (Little Rock, AR.)
WNXX FM 104.5 FM (Baton Rouge, LA)
WWL FM 105.3 (New Orleans, LA)
QB: Tyler Wilson, Brandon Allen
RB: Dennis Johnson, Knile Davis
WR: Cobi Hamilton, Javontee Herndon
WR: Julian Horton, Brandon Mitchell
WR: Mekale McKay, Demetrius Wilson
TE: Austin Tate, Alex Voelzke
OT: David Hurd, Chris Stringer
OG: Tyler Deacon, Luke Charpentier
C: Travis Swanson, Mitch Smothers
OG: Alvin Bailey, Luke Charpentier
OT: Jason Peacock, Brey Cook
FB: Morgan Linton, Jonathan Williams
K: Zach Hocker, John Henson
DE: Trey Flowers, Austin Flynn
DT: Alfred Davis, Jared Green
DT: Byran Jones, Robert Thomas
DE: Chris Smith, Colton Miles-Nash
OLB: A.J. Turner, Jarrett Lake
MLB: Otha Peters, Braylon Mitchell
STAR: Ross Rasner, Kaelon Kelleybrew
CB: Tevin Mitchel, Davyon McKinney
S: Eric Bennett, Jerry Mitchell
S: Rohan Gaines, Alan Turner
CB: Will Hines, Darius Winston
X: Kadron Boone, James Wright
LT: Josh Dworaczyk, Chris Davenport
LG: La’el Collins, Josh Dworaczyk
C: P.J. Lonergan, Elliot Porter
RG: Trai Turner, Elliot Porter
RT: Vadal Alexander, Elliott Porter
Y: Chase Clement, Travis Dickson
Z: Odell Beckham, Jr., Russell Shepard
3-Wide: Jarvis Landry
QB: Zach Mettenberger, Stephen Rivers
RB: Spencer Ware, Jeremy Hill
FB: J.C. Copeland, Connor Neighbors
LE: Barkevious Mingo, Lavar Edwards
LT: Josh Downs, Anthony Johnson
RT: Bennie Logan, Ego Ferguson
RE: Sam Montgomery, Lavar Edwards
Sam: Lamar Louis, Deion Jones
Mike: Kevin Minter, Ronnie Feist
Will: Lamin Barrow, Deion Jones
LCB: Jalen Mills, Jalen Collins
SS: Craig Loston, Micah Eugene
FS: Eric Reid, Ronald Martin
RCB: Tharold Simon, Dwayne Thomas
Nickel: Jalen Collins
Arkansas fell to Mississippi State in another game full of turnovers and missed opportunities.
The Razorbacks lost three fumbles and quarterback Tyler Wilson threw two interceptions in the 45-14 defeat.
Wilson was 23-of-29 with 225 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton added to his record-breaking season with 88 yards, and running back Dennis Johnson averaged 5.9 yards over 15 carries.
Another bright spot in the Hogs’ performance against Mississippi State was wide receiver Javontee Herndon. He posted 84 receiving yards against the Bulldogs, his best performance since the Week 1 game against Jacksonville State.
LSU showed what can be done when a team gets down and does not give up.
The Tigers scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a game-tying 89-yard punt return by Odell Beckham.
The LSU defense also produced two big plays during the Rebels’ failed go-ahead drive when Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace was sacked at the LSU 18 by sophomore Anthony Johnson for an 11-yard loss on second down. Defensive end Lavar Edwards finished driving Ole Miss out of close field-goal range by sacking Wallace again for a loss.
LSU then proceeded to eat up nearly all of the four minutes remaining in the game with a 12-play drive that resulted in the Tigers’ winning touchdown.
The Battle for the Boot is a holiday tradition in Arkansas and Louisiana.
Arkansas is looking for some semblance of redemption for its performances this season. Playing spoiler to LSU’s SEC title hopes would go a long way towards capping off a poor season and give fans something to cheer about before head coach John L. Smith is replaced in the offseason.
LSU is still in the SEC title hunt. It is a long-shot scenario that involves Auburn upsetting Alabama, but the Tigers still have to do their part and beat the Hogs for that scenario to be possible.
The passing attack comes together.
Tyler Wilson has been the key player for Arkansas all season, and the only way the Hogs can pull of this upset is if he is able to make plays.
That means that he has to continue to take big hits after almost every pass, pick himself up off the ground and keep pushing. That means that his wide receivers are going to have to make plays and hold up their end of the bargain and not allow interceptions.
The Razorbacks’ defense this year has been lackluster. The Hogs’ only way of winning this ballgame is for Wilson and his receivers to put up a high number of points and pray to the god of SEC underdogs that the Tigers don’t catch up.
LSU keeps doing what it has been doing all season.
LSU is fourth in the SEC in passing defense and third in rushing defense. Stopping Tyler Wilson and Dennis Johnson should not be a problem for a team that has been stopping tougher scoring offenses all season.
The Tigers are facing a Razorback defense that cannot handle a passing offense of any kind and will have plenty of options if for some reason the Hogs stop the Tigers’ running game.
LSU was almost upset by Ole Miss, and it can be beaten, If the Tigers show up in Fayetteville ready to play ball, they will do their part in the possible scenario that has them winning an SEC title.
LSU comes into the game as a 12-point favorite against an Arkansas team that has not had any momentum all season.
This is a rival game in Fayetteville, and the Hogs have a tremendous chip on their shoulder after the season they’ve had. Anything can happen.
But it is probably safe to say that Les Miles and company will continue their season of dominating teams like the Razorbacks, and they’ll leave Arkansas with the Boot in hand.
LSU wins 38-14