Dig Baton Rouge

Gameday Preview: LSU vs. Arkansas

By Casey Gisclair
@Casey_Gisclair

We knew that game in Alabama was coming.

An overrated LSU team that has made its calling card all season by feasting on backup quarterbacks and inferior competition finally met its match in a big way on Saturday in a decisive loss against Alabama.

The Tigers were outmanned at the line of scrimmage and got bullied on both sides on the ball by Alabama’s powerful linemen. If college football jerseys had pockets, every player in white would have been forced to give their lunch money to every player in crimson.

The game was ugly, and it was far more lopsided than the final 14-point gap would indicate.

Even with the shellacking, the Tigers have hope and can possibly save their season if they win out and go 10-1. That won’t be easy – not in the least.

Saturday night’s battle with Arkansas will be the start of a hellacious close to the season, as the Tigers square off against the Hogs in the annual Battle for the Golden Boot.

Before we go any further, watch Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s Freudian slip following the Razorbacks 53-52 victory over Ole Miss.

LSU OFFENSE vs. ARKANSAS DEFENSE

The LSU offense met its match on Saturday against Alabama, but let’s not discredit the work that this unit has done this season. Sure, Alabama made those guys look foolish, but guess what? The Tide make a lot of offenses look foolish in a lot of games.

All things considered, Brandon Harris did OK against Alabama – even if he missed a couple of throws that he’d like to have back. Look, fans enslaved by the ESPN hype will suddenly be convinced that Leonard Fournette is now garbage and incapable of being a premier back. That’s nonsense. Fournette just had a tough day, logging only 31 yards on 19 carries. Big deal.

Fournette will be much better against a Razorbacks defense that has struggled to keep opponents in check this season. The Razorbacks won on Saturday, but let the Ole Miss offense do just about anything it wanted offensively in a shootout. Brooks Ellis and Dre Greenlaw are the Hogs’ top tacklers on a defense that’s lacked a lot of sizzle so far in the season.

ADVANTAGE: LSU

LSU DEFENSE vs. ARKANSAS OFFENSE

The LSU defense always felt a bit fraudulent in 2015, but it was hard to say it definitively until the Tigers got exposed in a game and allowed a bunch of yards. That happened against Alabama.

The LSU defensive line has no depth – at all. The players that the Tigers do have are small – especially on the edges. That makes stopping the run tough. When teams throw? No problem. LSU’s secondary is equally young and green.

It all looks pretty bleak when one considers that Arkansas is a carbon copy of Alabama’s offense, except probably a little better. Alex Collins is a 1,000-yard rusher, and quarterback Brandon Allen has 21 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. Massive tight end Hunter Henry has 34 grabs for 469 yards, and his counterpart Drew Morgan is even better with 620 yards and 9 scores.

Don’t be surprised if the Razorbacks score points in bunches and make this game eerily uncomfortable for LSU fans in attendance in Death Valley.

ADVANTAGE: Arkansas

SPECIAL TEAMS

The LSU special teams are awful – one of the worst units in the history of college football.

Against Alabama, the Tigers’ special teams unit did the following: A) had 12 men on the field for an extra point, B) could never return a kick past what felt like the 10-yard-line, and C) kicked the ball out of bounds on a kickoff that led to points. And this was one of their best games of the season as a unit.

I’m picking LSU’s opponent to have the special teams advantage for every game throughout the rest of the season. I’m doing so without even doing research on the opponent. It simply just doesn’t matter – LSU’s special teams unit is that awful.

Just for the record, the Razorbacks do have solid return and coverage teams – even if their kicker isn’t the best.

ADVANTAGE: Arkansas

PREDICTION

I really don’t like this Arkansas matchup for LSU. It’s like facing Alabama Lite – the team in the conference who plays a style of ball most similar to that of the Crimson Tide. With that said, I’m going to say that a hungry LSU team bounces back and takes advantage of an overhyped Arkansas team that simply can’t get lucky two weeks in a row. That fourth and 25 play the Razorbacks converted against Ole Miss was insane. No way that team gets up just seven days later for another road battle. LSU wins ugly.

LSU 24, Arkansas 14

No. 9 LSU Tigers (7-1, 4-1) vs. Arkansas (5-4, 3-2)
Tiger Stadium (102,321); Baton Rouge, La.
Saturday, Nov. 14; 6:15 p.m.
TV: ESPN; Radio: 98.1 FM

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