LSU Tigers vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Full Game Preview
Welcome to the last episode of "The Battle of the Golden Boot" over Thanksgiving weekend. Next season, the Tigers will play Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day.
LSU comes into Saturday high off its victory against Texas A&M last week. The Tigers thoroughly beat the Aggies in all three phases of the game, resulting in Les Miles' most impressive performance of the season.
Arkansas has rolled off eight straight losses. Last week, the Hogs were ahead by 10 early against Mississippi State but could not hold on as the Bulldogs edged out a 24-17 victory in overtime.
LSU will have Senior Day in Tiger Stadium on Saturday, biding farewell to another successful senior class. Arkansas will continue to fight hard, seeking its first conference win.
Here is everything you need to know.
Time: 1:30 CST
Place: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Spread: LSU by 24.5 via Scores and Odds
LSU Keys to Victory
Stop the run
Simply put, Arkansas has had below average quarterback play this season from Brandon Allen. Any success the Hogs have had is through the ground.
The Hogs do have some good beef up front. Fullback Kiero Small paves the way for a talented running back duo of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins.
LSU's defense played well against Texas A&M, but now will have to face a team with a completely different offensive philosophy. The Tigers must play big up the middle against a team that can pile up rushing yards quickly.
If the Tigers force Allen into third-and-long situations, the Razorbacks have little shot of pulling the upset.
Let it fly
Arkansas has a terrible secondary. LSU has an elite duo of receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. Look for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to take shots down field.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger should have a great day if his pass protection holds up. Last season, the Tigers offensive line struggled against the Hogs.
Arkansas Keys to Victory
Throw on early downs
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema wants to run the football with his talented running backs. But LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis will load the box to stop it.
Quarterback Brandon Allen must be trusted. The Hogs should have some success on the ground, but Allen will need to make plays through the air on early downs to keep the defense honest.
Arkansas could be the worst tackling defense in the SEC. The Razorbacks, particularly in the secondary, have missed open field tackles that have turned into big gains.
Odell Beckham Jr. and Jeremy Hill are excellent at making defenders miss. Arkansas needs to bring them down as quickly as possible on Saturday.
Play sound special teams
Arkansas gave up a punt return touchdown to Tyrann Mathieu in 2011. The Hogs allowed Michael Ford to return a kick 86 yards, which eventually resulted in a touchdown.
Arkansas fans were frustrated when the Hogs attempted and failed a fake punt against Mississippi State last week. The Bulldogs would eventually win in overtime.
Talented kicker in Zach Hocker has a booming leg. The Razorbacks feel comfortable letting him take kicks from 60 yards out if he feels comfortable.
Ultimately, the Razorbacks must play smart on special teams to have a chance on the road against LSU.
Players to Watch for LSU
LSU running back Terrence Magee rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown against Texas A&M. Magee has proven to be the clear cut No. 2 to Jeremy Hill.
The Tigers love to spread the wealth on carries. Magee's carry count could be any number.
Arkansas has struggled at linebacker this season. Expect LSU to test the Razorbacks up the middle on simple ground-and-pound running plays.
Expect LSU to use Hill and Magee early. If LSU develops a comfortable lead, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue will join in on the act.
Danielle Hunter will be one of the best defensive ends in the SEC next season. He showed flashes of brilliance against Texas A&M last Saturday.
Now, the slender Hunter will play an Arkansas team with a powerful rushing attack. Hunter and his fellow lean defensive ends will need to hold the edge against an experienced offensive line that run-blocks well.
True freshman linebacker Duke Riley has made a mark on special teams. When he is not making a tackle or critical block, he is hitting somebody.
Riley's hustle is contagious. He is part of a kickoff team that has been superb since giving up a touchdown in the opening game against TCU.
Players to Watch for Arkansas
There might not be a more under-appreciated defensive lineman in the SEC than Chris Smith. Smith has put together another productive season with 8.5 sacks this season.
LSU's offensive tackles could not block Chris Smith last season. The Tigers will have two new offensive tackles to take their turn against the conference's most consistent pass rusher.
Like Smith, Travis Swanson has been a productive senior over the course of his career. The center paves the way for the Arkansas rushing attack.
Swanson will have NFL scouts watching him intently as he faces off against LSU defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson. Offensive lineman struggle to communicate in Tiger Stadium because of crowd noise, but Swanson is experienced enough to make his calls quickly.
Arkansas not only needs Swanson for his talent, but his leadership as well.
What They Are Saying
Les Miles shared with the media at his weekly press luncheon his favorite Thanksgiving foods.
Miles says he is impressed with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks despite their poor record via Jim Kleinpeter of Nola.com.
Well, you can see a lot on film, and you can tell that teams are well prepared, offense, defense and special teams. He (Bielema) has a little different slant on how he sees things. You can tell he's a very talented coach, very capable. Provides very specific challenges to us.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema says there is no time to sulk about a disappointing season via The Kansas City Star.
We got six days together. We got six days that this room is going to be the exact same that it is right now...So let's embrace these six days, have fun with it, try to make the most of a very difficult situation and be something that you can remember for a lifetime.
LSU is projected to win by three touchdowns. The Tigers were projected to beat Arkansas by double-digits last season too. The game finished 20-13 with the Hogs having a legitimate chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
This season, both teams are in similar positions. LSU has a few losses, but it has been a solid year overall. Arkansas has a disastrous record and a frustrated fan base.
Arkansas is in rebuilding mode as Bielema has completely changed the team's philosophy. The Hogs have some talented players on the line of scrimmage, which could give LSU some problems.
If the Razorbacks do not allow explosive plays, the game will be closer than the experts think. But that is easier said than done, as the secondary does not have the speed of receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Expect Cam Cameron to take some shots down field to Beckham Jr. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger should have at least 250 yards passing.
LSU eventually wins the game with comfort thanks to great offense. Expect a season high in turnovers for the Tigers defense as the Tigers win big to close the season.
Score: LSU 42 - Arkansas 20