Louisiana State (5-3) will head to Hog country this weekend to face Arkansas (6-3) in Fayetteville.
Battle for the Golden Boot
The LSU-Arkansas rivalry began in 1901, but didn’t become an SEC battle until 1996 when the Hogs joined the conference. Since then, the two SEC West teams have played each other every year with the winner taking home the Golden Boot. LSU leads the series 37-22-2, but Arkansas is the team that has managed to keep the boot in Fayetteville for the past two years.
What to Know About LSU
Run the ball. Plain and simple. If LSU wants to return to the strong play they had after the coaching change, they need to run the ball.
The Tigers are coming off a 10-0 loss to Alabama in the previous week. LSU has long been
criticized for their poor bounce back the week after losing to the Tide. Tiger coach Ed Oregon hopes this week turns around for the Tigers and their struggling offense. Orgeron’s players know Arkansas tends to play lights out in their home stadium.
Orgeron is no stranger to Fayetteville. He spent some time there as the assistant strength coach back in the mid 80’s.
The Tigers went 3-0 the first few weeks after Orgeron took over as interim head coach. Last week’s loss to Alabama was their first loss after the mid-season coaching change.
LSU ace running back Leonard Fournette missed four games earlier in the season with an ankle injury but is back on the field. Fournette said earlier this week he didn’t think he would be completely healthy the rest of the season.
The Tigers need a quarterback to work some magic with Fournette. This season Danny Etling earned that spot as the year progressed but the results in the passing game have been mixed at best. LSU has struggled with their passing game at times but the Tigers need that part of their game to click to help out a solid running attack.
What to Know About Arkansas
The Razorback defense was an impenetrable wall against Florida in their last game. They only allowed 12 rushing yards against the Gators. That seems unbelievable after the Hogs allowed the most rush yards in program history (532 yd) against Auburn in the game prior to Florida.
Head coach Bret Bielema has confidence in his defense against LSU and knows Etling’s game. Bielema recruited him when he was leaving Purdue. Although Bielema may not have been able to get Etling to Fayetteville, but the Razorbacks coach still praises his talent.
Arkansas’s defense will be wary of the Tigers running the ball. Etling’s inconsistency puts pressure on the running game for the Tigers. They need to stop Fournette. The Hogs need to do what they did against Florida if they want to retain the boot for a third straight year.
Arkansas is hoping the third time’s the charm. The last time the Razorbacks beat LSU three games in a row was about a month after the stock market crashed and Arnold Palmer was born.
On offense, Arkansas may be have the upper hand. Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen played well against Florida last week and did what he needed to do to win. He didn’t throw for 400 yards like he did in the loss against Alabama, but he did still manage to throw for 247 yards against the Gators.
LSU hands down has the advantage on defense. They held Alabama to just 10 points last week, which could have won the Tigers the game if they had a consistent offense.
Arkansas’s defense is like the tale of two teams. They allowed the most rush yards in program history against Auburn. The next week in the bye-week they made scheme and player adjustments and played well. There is no telling what the Razorbacks will do come Saturday.
The Take Away
It’s hard to say what will happen on Saturday. Arkansas could three-peat with the Golden Boot just as easily as LSU could show their stripes and dominate. On paper, LSU is favored to win. But in reality, Arkansas has momentum and the home field advantage. When the Hogs are in Fayetteville, something switches for the Razorbacks and they play at a different level of intensity.
You can find the game on ESPN at 7 PM ET.