Arkansas vs. LSU: Great Win for Tigers, but It Never Should Have Been That Close

Carter BryantContributor INovember 29, 2013

Les Miles shakes hands with Bret Bielema after the Tigers' 31-27 victory.
Les Miles shakes hands with Bret Bielema after the Tigers' 31-27 victory.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LSU beat Arkansas Friday in one of the craziest games in college football this season. The Tigers prevailed 31-27 thanks to a 99-yard touchdown drive from backup quarterback Anthony Jennings in relief of the injured Zach Mettenberger.

But do not get caught up in Les Miles' wizardry—it was an atrocious overall performance from the Tigers. 

LSU was a 24.5-point favorite and hot off its best victory of the season against Texas A&M. The Hogs were still reeling from a heart-breaking defeat against Mississippi State. 

LSU receiver Travin Dural celebrates his game-winning touchdown pass.
LSU receiver Travin Dural celebrates his game-winning touchdown pass.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Razorbacks, who were looking to avoid their first winless season in the SEC since moving to the conference in 1992, came into Death Valley and outplayed the Tigers until late in the fourth quarter. The Hogs were the 13th-ranked offense in the SEC, but LSU allowed struggling quarterback Brandon Allen to have the best game of his college career. 

For long periods of the game, Arkansas dominated the trenches with bruising runs up the middle. Allen and the offense would then abuse the LSU secondary on play-action. 

This game was another low point for Miles, as his team played down to its opponent yet again. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema established the smash-mouth tempo of the game, as the Tigers were put on their heels. 

Outside of miraculous catches from Jarvis Landry and a bit of busted Arkansas coverage that lost the Hogs the game, the LSU passing attack was miserable. The Razorbacks had the 11th-ranked pass defense in the SEC coming into the game. Mettenberger could not find any other options open after Odell Beckham Jr. left the game with injury. 

The Tigers committed five more penalties than a young Arkansas team. Four of LSU's penalties were due to Anthony Johnson jumping offsides. 

Simply put, the game should not have been this close. But this should come to no surprise, as the game last season followed the same storyline.

Arkansas played as if it were a bowl game. LSU, in front of a rather dead Tiger Stadium, played lethargically. 

This instant classic, which eight of the last nine happened to be decided by one possession or less, is the last "Battle of the Boot" that will be played over Thanksgiving weekend.

Maybe that's why the Tigers now want to play Texas A&M over Thanksgiving.