Arkansas vs. LSU: 5 Things We Learned About the Razorbacks Loss
The game started out great with a few thrilling and what seemed to be game-changing plays, but at the end of the day the top-ranked Bayou Bengals flexed their muscles at home.
LSU proved once again why they are ranked No. 1 and deserve a title shot regardless of what happens next weekend in Atlanta.
However, we learned quite a bit about this Arkansas team and not all was terrible despite the lopsided loss.
LSU and Alabama Are Best Two Teams, Period
We learned that Arkansas is not close to becoming the best team in the country, but nobody besides LSU and Alabama are. The Crimson Tide and the Tigers are primed to play for the BCS National Championship and most of us knew this last weekend.
One could argue that for the past two seasons now, the Razorbacks were beat by the two best/most talented teams in America. Alabama had three losses last season and did not finish in the top three, but they were still arguably among the elite teams last season.
This season Alabama is poised to be the only team to beat LSU despite already losing to them. Arkansas has nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. They were beat by a better team, fair and square.
Two Tough Losses Will Stay in Petrino's Mind
In a year of the handshakes, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino wasn't too pleased with how the game ended. Les Miles and LSU were throwing late in the game despite leading 38-17.
Les Miles says it had nothing to do with piling it on for the BCS, but clearly he wanted to attempt to score towards the end of the game and instead settled for a field goal with five minutes remaining.
It has been the last four losses in the SEC for the past two seasons that really sticks in the mind of Petrino, as well as most Arkansas fans: Alabama twice on top of Auburn and now LSU. These losses surely hurt.
The last two seasons have been remarkable to follow in favor of Arkansas, but they still need to improve a bit at the line of scrimmage. There was hope that the defensive line could stand up to the Tigers' premier offensive line, but that was not the case today.
Also, the Razorbacks' offensive line was left out to dry (so was Tyler Wilson!) when LSU just pinned their ears back and went bonkers on the Razorbacks.
In time Arkansas can be right there with the two big bullies, but for now they will need to lick their wounds and try to improve one day at a time.
Running Game Was Inept
How much improvement will Arkansas make next season with Knile Davis? I ask this because though Dennis Johnson was picking up some steam heading into the game against LSU, nothing was going. Is Knile Davis that much better? (I think he is, when healthy plus O-line should improve).
In their two losses to Alabama and LSU, the Razorbacks found zero running room! They ran it for 17 yards on 19 carries against Alabama and ran it 28 times for 47 yards against LSU.
Combine that to 64 yards or a 1.4 yard per carry, which is not going to get it done.
Pass Defense Had Issues
Arkansas came in with the 28th-ranked pass defense, allowing only 196 yards per game. Certainly they won't be improving upon those numbers after allowing 208 yards to Jordan Jefferson.
Jefferson had his way all game long as the corners were often concerned about getting beat deep, so LSU picked them apart at will. Rueben Randle without a doubt is among the best receivers in the country and in the SEC, but the rest of the group is not impossible to defend.
In fact, Arkansas backed that theory up limiting the rest of the group to nine catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. They could not double Randle much because the rushing offense was gashing the Razorbacks.
Run Defense Is Far from Elite, and Final Thoughts
"The battle of the Golden Boot" was no contest once the fourth quarter was in high gear because the offensive line of the Tigers paved their way to the storied program's very first 8-0 SEC season.
LSU has shown their offensive line is the best in the game and there was nothing Arkansas could do about it. It was tough to watch because it was just six yards and a cloud of dust every play.
Kenny Hilliard rumbled and stumbled to 102 yards and Michael Ford tacked up 96 yards. Opening-day starting running back Spencer Ware is now considered the third-best back as he toted it only eight times for 37 yards and a score.
Even Jordan Jefferson ran for 53 yards (albeit 48 of it was on a touchdown scamper). Don't get me wrong—this Arkansas squad was deserving of being ranked third since there were many questionable teams behind them—but to say they are the third-best team in the country would now be a stretch after suffering their second thrashing in the SEC.
All is not lost because they can finish their season with a likely Capital One Bowl victory over the Big Ten Championship loser (MSU v. Wisc/PSU). A 11-2 season would give them the most victories in a season since the 1977 Lou Holtz-led squad.
These Razorbacks will be arguably the best team to not play in a BCS Bowl this season, and Bobby Petrino has a ton of talent to build around, including his star junior quarterback Tyler Wilson.