LSU vs. Arkansas: Breaking Down This High Stakes Battle for the Boot

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIINovember 22, 2011

LSU vs. Arkansas: Breaking Down This High Stakes Battle for the Boot

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    The LSU Tigers and Arkansas Razorbacks battle it out Friday for the SEC West and a national championship bid, and it features the most interesting matchups of the year.

    I’ve been saying it all season that I could not wait to see LSU’s amazing secondary going against the best wide receiving corps in college football, and here it is.

    It’s going to be fantastic, and even though the Tigers’ defense looks nearly invincible, the Hogs possess enough talent on offense to put points on the board.

    For those who complained about the defensive struggle between LSU and the Alabama Crimson Tide on Nov. 5, this game will be more pleasing to you.

    The road to the BCS Championship Game has been full of unexpected turns and thrilling football games.

    It’s only fitting that it comes down to this Friday’s top-three matchup between two of the best teams in the nation. Here are the five matchups that will decide Friday’s outcome.

Arkansas Receivers vs. LSU Secondary

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    Come this Friday, I’ll be in the press box for the game, and there’s one thing I’ll be keeping a close eye on throughout the game: Arkansas’ receivers vs. LSU’s secondary.

    This will be an absolute masterpiece, as the Hogs can go five wide receivers deep and hurt any defense with their incredible athleticism, while the Tigers can rotate players in the secondary throughout the game and not miss a beat.

    This game has become even more interesting after last week’s games because Greg Childs showed that he’s getting his mojo back and Ron Brooks keeps coming up big in the secondary for LSU.

    After Childs caught a couple of passes, things opened up for Joe Adams down the field, and it was a one-sided beatdown dished out by the Hogs from that point. As for Brooks, if he continues to give LSU’s defense solid play, the Tigers might not have any weak links to their team whatsoever.

    I will say this though, I think Arkansas will try and spread LSU’s defense out and target the receiver Tyrann Mathieu is covering.

    We all know Mathieu is an outstanding player that has incredible instincts when it comes to making plays, but his coverage ability is the weakest part of his game. I look for Arkansas to target that matchup.

    I expect them to burn LSU some with that matchup, but if they go to it too often, I think Mathieu will burn them with one of his patented forced fumbles or interceptions. This matchup is a masterpiece.

Brad Wing vs. Joe Adams

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    If you’re LSU, you can’t let Joe Adams beat you.

    Everyone knows that Adams is one of the most electrifying players in college football, with the ability to change a game with a few broken tackles, shifty moves and tightroping down the sidelines. He’s that good.

    Lucky for the Tigers they have Brad Wing and the best special teams in the nation. Wing has to get that incredible hang time and try to put them inside the 5-yard line, which is what he’s done regularly all season long.

    To make this matchup even better, an Arkansas fan tweeted at Wing and said please punt to Adams, and Wing retweeted and said, “I plan to.”

Tyler Wilson vs. the Best Defense in Football

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    Tyler Wilson is an outstanding quarterback, but this will be one of the toughest tests of his collegiate career.

    There’s no denying that Alabama’s defense is one of the best in the country, but I’m giving LSU the slight edge when it comes to the secondary.

    Wilson will not have an ample amount of time to throw the football because of the defensive line’s ability to get to the quarterback and the ability their secondary possesses to lock down receivers.

    With that said, Arkansas’ receivers are good from top to bottom, so I expect Wilson to have opportunities to score points against the defense.

    It’s up to him to take advantage of opportunities that LSU’s defense presents to him and not turn the ball over, and this will be the difference-maker in the football game.

    Something I noticed Mississippi State do that I’m sure LSU will try to employ going is show a blitz off the edge and then drop into coverage. The Bulldogs missed some interception opportunities, and should Wilson not identify the coverage, this LSU defense could easily get some interceptions. 

    Not turning the ball over against LSU’s defense is a lot to ask for, though, because the Tigers have created at least one turnover in ever game this season.

    That’s a remarkable stat, and this will be undoubtedly the biggest storyline of the football game. Can the Hogs take care of the football and get great quarterback play from Wilson going against this stellar defense?

Bobby Petrino vs. Les Miles

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    Let’s not focus on just the players for this matchup Friday, but let’s look at the coaches that are involved.

    Both Bobby Petrino and Les Miles are two of the best coaches in the SEC, and I’m interested to see both coaches’ strategies going into the game.

    Should Miles start Jefferson, rush the football 90 percent of the time and bring pressure against Arkansas’ deadly passing game?

    As for Petrino, should he stack the box and force LSU to throw the football? Will he try to establish the running game with Broderick Green and Dennis Johnson? Is he willing to take chances in one of the biggest games Arkansas has had in years?

    These are questions I can't wait to see answered, and the anticipation for the game Friday is absolutely killing me.

Biggest Game in Tiger Stadium History?

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    There’s a couple of things that I want to get on this slide.

    The first is that I’ve been seeing on LSU message boards that most fans are calling this the biggest game in Tiger Stadium history. That’s quite a big statement because of all the amazing games that have taken place, but after thinking about it, I believe it is.

    I know LSU vs. Florida in 1997 was a huge game, as was LSU vs. Georgia in 2003, LSU vs. Florida in 2007 and so on, but take in mind everything that's on the line Friday.

    This is a No. 1 vs. No. 3 matchup with SEC Championship and BCS National Championship bids all on the line. Both of these teams are playing for those spots and it can become a reality for either team with a victory Friday.

    That’s insane.

    Another thing: I believe this LSU team has faced the toughest road to the championship that any other team has ever had to face. It’s a bold statement, I know, but I’ve been looking for a schedule that’s tougher and have yet to find one.

    LSU has played the No. 3, No. 25, No. 16, No. 17, No. 20, No. 2 and will now face another No. 3 team this Friday. As if that wasn’t enough, should the Tigers win, they’ll have to play against another top 15 team in the SEC championship and then face another No. 2.

    I've looked at schedules from the 1988 Notre Dame team and 1996 Florida Gators, and both of those schedules are shadowed by the Tigers' 2011 schedule.

    That’s what has made this season so remarkable for the Tigers, and fans all around Louisiana can’t help but ask themselves, "Can LSU can pull off another victory over a top ranked team this Friday?"

    This is where legends are born, and this team has a chance to become one of the greatest teams college football has ever seen if they win out.


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