Arkansas vs. LSU: How Good Would the Razorbacks Be If Knile Davis Were Playing?

Colby LanhamCorrespondent INovember 25, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Knile Davis #7 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Sitting at 10-1, the Arkansas Razorbacks are in a position many did not anticipate them to be in: sitting at No. 3 in the BCS rankings, with a chance to upset No.1 LSU and have a shot at both the SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship.

And they've done it all without the aid of their No. 1 running back in Knile Davis, who was an instrumental part of their running game in 2010.

In 2010, Davis rushed for 1322 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and had 13 rushing touchdowns. He was primed to have similar numbers this season before his season-ending injury.

While fellow backs Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo have done well, they have not put up the numbers that Davis did. Johnson more of the change of pace back, and does not receive the kinds of carries that Davis would. Johnson has rushed for 606 yards with three touchdowns, while Ronnie Wingo has rushed for 424 yards with three touchdowns.

The Razorbacks rank 72nd in rushing yards this season without Davis in the backfield. Yet, they are 10-1. What would Arkansas have been able to do had Davis not been injured?

The Razorbacks may have ended up beating Alabama, and could have been a more complete offense, as they are largely pass oriented this year without Davis, as they clearly ran the ball a little bit more with Davis under center.

At the very least, it kept defenses honest to Davis as a threat on the ground. Johnson is a threat on the ground, but does not bring the same bruising presence that Davis did, with Johnson being the faster and shiftier of the two. The two-back threat is what gave Arkansas the ability to gain a BCS bid to the Sugar Bowl last year.

Going into this game, LSU will be geared towards stopping quarterback Tyler Wilson from shredding their defense, not stopping their diminished ground game. This game could very well have a different outlook if Davis was healthy and active for this game.

And who knows. Had Davis been healthy, we may have been seeing a true top notch, balanced Razorback offense going against a top notch LSU Tiger defense.