LSU and Arkansas kick off Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET on CBS, marking the 58th meeting between the schools in the Golden Boot Rivalry. This game was expected to carry national title implications this season, but after the Arkansas tumble, this year the game lacks expected impact.
What should have been one of the most exciting games of the Thanksgiving weekend is setting up to be a blowout.
The Battle for the Golden Boot has been an annual rivalry for Arkansas and LSU since 1992 when Arkansas joined the SEC. Prior to the Razorbacks joining the conference, the teams had played 37 times with 30 games being played consecutively from 1907 to 1936.
This game has history, and this year’s contest may be one for the record books.
Through 11 games, LSU has the No. 5 total defense, No. 8 rushing and No. 13 passing defense in the country. Arkansas is the No. 54 total offense, and No. 103 in rushing. It will be a long day for the Arkansas offense.
Tyler Wilson has been extremely inconsistent this fall for Arkansas. He was expected to be one of the elite signal-callers in the country entering the year, but instead Wilson has averaged one interception per the past seven games with multiple turnovers coming in five of those seven.
He has accumulated 20 touchdowns to counter his 12 interceptions, but overall he hasn’t lived up to the senior expectations placed on him. With the stingy LSU defense roaming the secondary, Wilson will likely add to his interception totals in this game.
Another key problem with the Razorbacks offense has been the ground game. Knile Davis was expected to be one of the SEC’s best backs this season. Through 11 games he only has two touchdowns and 346 yards rushing.
LSU could likely win this game with just defense, but the Tigers offense has taken off in the past couple of weeks.
Zach Mettenberger has played his best football over the past few weeks, mounting breakout performances against Alabama and Mississippi State. On the season he has not been extremely reliable, but he has settled in the Tigers offense and is getting better with each passing week.
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Couple Mettenberger with the LSU ground game led by Jeremy Hill, and the Arkansas defense—ranked No. 79 in total defense—will have fits from kickoff.
Arkansas has looked lost consistently this fall with John L. Smith leading the team down the road of mediocrity. The Razorbacks were expected to be a dark horse national title challenger, but instead they have dropped seven games this year and are staring at their eighth loss of the season.
LSU began the season as a front-runner in the BCS title hunt, but two losses removed this team from the conversation. Jerry Palm at CBSSports.com still has the Bayou Bengals landing in the BCS, but their performance in this rivalry game could play a big part in where this team spends the New Year.
By the time the box score settles in this contest on Friday, LSU will be walking away with one of the biggest victories in this rivalry’s history.