It’s yet another game of the century in this crazy college football season. This one has so many things riding on the outcome, with the BCS Championship Game at the top of that list.
If LSU wins then they are just one win over Georgia in the SEC Championship away from their shot at the national title. If Arkansas wins, though, we have total chaos. There will be a whole bunch of one-loss teams with a claim on a spot in the big game, and hurt feelings are certain.
Since I don’t have any real tie to either of these teams, I’m almost cheering for Arkansas just because of the mess it will create.
Arkansas at LSU Betting Storylines
It’s striking when the third-ranked team in the country is a serious underdog in a game, but especially striking when you look at recent history. Arkansas has won three of the last four annual meetings between these squads including last year, and they have covered the spread in each of the last four.
The problem for Arkansas, of course, is that this isn’t the LSU team that we have seen in the past.
There will be a pall hanging over the Razorbacks in this game. Redshirt freshman tight end Garrett Uekman was found dead in his room on Sunday morning after playing on Saturday. He wasn’t a major contributor on the field yet, but he was a popular guy among his teammates, and his death will unquestionably have a big impact — especially in a short week.
Coach Bobby Petrino will look to turn this into a positive—a rallying point instead of a distraction—but that’s easier said than done.
LSU has obviously and unquestionably been impressive this year. Aside from the dull 9-6 win over Alabama they are winning their games by an average of 30.4 points, and 34.4 points at home. They have won 16 straight at home, and the Razorbacks have not traveled particularly well this year, so this is a big checkmark for the Tigers.
There are several interesting matchups here, but the most intriguing is the Arkansas passing game against the LSU secondary.
The Hogs have a very strong receiving corps—the best in the SEC by a wide margin. They have averaged nearly 320 yards per game passing, and they can effectively go as much as five deep with receivers without a problem.
Most teams would struggle to contain a passing attack like that. Of course, most teams don’t have a secondary like the Tigers do. Led by Tyrann Mathieu they are a deadly unit that has consistently shut teams down all year. This is strength against strength—the dream for football fans.
Special teams are also going to be interesting in this one—especially if and when the Tigers have to kick the ball away. LSU punter Brad Wing is among the best in the country, and the entire special teams unit is strong.
The Hogs have a huge weapon of their own—Joe Adams is as good at returning kicks as anyone in the country. Adams will be looking to open up the game, and the Tigers will do everything they can to make sure he doesn’t beat them. Wing has said he plans to punt to Adams, so this should be exciting.
Teams with respectable offenses have been able to score on the Razorbacks. South Carolina and Vanderbilt scored 28 each, and the Aggies and Alabama each scored 38. The Tigers have excelled offensively all year, so this is another big factor in the favor of the Tigers.
Arkansas at LSU Betting Odds and Trends
LSU opened as two-touchdown favorites in this one, but bettors weren’t convinced. A small majority of bettors have backed Arkansas, and the line has dropped to 12 and is showing signs it could even move a little lower. The total opened at 52 and has been stable in early betting.
Both teams have been solid for bettors recently—the Tigers have covered five of their last six, and Arkansas has covered three straight. Arkansas is 16-6 ATS in their last 22 games overall. Fifteen of the last 22 LSU games have gone ‘under’ the total.
Arkansas at LSU Predictions and College Football Picks
The size of the line makes me uneasy, but I just don’t see any way not to pick the Tigers. They are at home, they have a far better defense, their offense won’t have too many issues against the Arkansas defense, they have a huge incentive to perform here, and they have been consistently strong all year.
Arkansas looked outclassed when they played Alabama earlier in the year, and LSU is just a little better than Alabama. I’d wait as long as I could so that the line has time to fall as far as it will, then I’d jump on them.
I expect them to win reasonably comfortably.
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc’s Sports football picks Web site.