LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels runs the ball against Alabama in an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. LSU won 32-31 in overtime. (Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via AP)

Arkansas Welcomes Red-Hot LSU for Battle for the Golden Boot

Down by seven to Alabama in overtime last Saturday at Tiger Stadium, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels ran a read option and scored a 25-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to one point. First-year LSU head coach Brian Kelly kept his offense on the field as Daniels managed to convert a game-winning, two-point conversion for freshman tight end Mason Taylor.

The Tigers pulled off their first home victory over the Crimson Tide since 2010. As a result, LSU leaped Alabama in the SEC Standings as well as in both major national ranking polls.

Geaux Tigers

LSU leads the SEC West with a 5-1 conference record. In this week’s College Football Playoff Rankings, the Tigers jumped three spots to No. 7 — their highest ranking since week three of the 2020 season.

Daniels won Co-Offensive Player of the Week following his stellar performance against the Crimson Tide defense. The Arizona State transfer leads all SEC quarterbacks with 619 yards on the ground and 10 rushing touchdowns.

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After hauling in the game-winning, two-point conversion, Taylor won Co-Freshman Player of the Week.

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LSU linebacker Harold Perkins earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after the freshman sacked reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and made a career-high eight tackles against Alabama.

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Kelly explained the pivotal decision to move Perkins from inside to outside linebacker.

“We moved [Perkins] to an outside linebacker position, which we felt like was an easier fit for him to pick up what we wanted,” Kelly said. “We found out early on that this was a young man that definitely needed to get on the field, and then we had to figure out how to do that without putting too much on him.”

Hungry Hogs

After trailing Liberty 21-3 at halftime last Saturday, Arkansas scored 16 unanswered points in the second half. But the Hogs came up just shy as Liberty denied their potential game-tying, two-point conversion attempt with just over a minute remaining.

Following their second home loss this year, the Razorbacks dropped to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in conference play — fifth in the SEC West.

The Razorbacks will look to bounce back against LSU, but junior quarterback KJ Jefferson is dealing with a lingering shoulder injury that may keep him sidelined. In the loss to Liberty, Jefferson tossed a pair of costly interceptions after he threw only one pick through the first seven games. Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman remains unsure of Jefferson’s status heading into the weekend but admits the team is prepared to rally behind sophomore quarterback Malik Hornsby — who made his first-career start in week six at Mississippi State.

“KJ threw some on Monday, not much at all [Tuesday],” Pittman said. “Malik Hornsby has had a really good week at practice. The team is confident in him, and so either way, whether we play KJ [Jefferson] or whether we play Malik [Hornsby], we’ll feel like we’ll have a guy that can go back there [who] the team believes in and execute our game plan.”

 

Arkansas averages the second most rushing yards (234.4) per game in the SEC led by sophomore running back Raheim Sanders. Sanders ranks first in the conference and seventh in the nation with 1,101 rushing yards. Sanders is averaging over six yards per carry, but the Rockledge, Fla., native is coming off a season-low 60-yard effort against Liberty.

Defensively, the Hogs will look to pressure Daniels as they rank second in the SEC behind only Alabama with 28 sacks. Junior linebacker Drew Sanders leads the conference with 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Look to History

The Battle for the Golden Boot dates back to 1901 with LSU leading the all-time series, 42-23-2. The Tigers lost to Arkansas in overtime last year by a field goal, but LSU prevailed in five consecutive meetings prior to last season. In Fayetteville, the Tigers have won four of their last five meetings.

Despite his unfamiliarity as a first-year head coach, Kelly called LSU’s traditional rivalries such as this one “important” and “exciting.”

“The Golden Boot is one that, ya know, the guys know about,” Kelly said. “[We] want to get that trophy back.”

About Griffin Foll

Hi, my name is Griffin Foll and I am currently a senior at UF studying journalism with a focus on sports and media and an outside concentration in political science. In addition to covering the 2023 UF men's and women's golf beats, I contribute weekly web and radio content for WRUF ESPN Gainesville. Be sure to check out some of my recent articles!

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