Game Day preview: What you need to know about LSU-Arkansas
Revitalization may be the word of the week for LSU.
The Tigers will need a revival after they were drubbed 30-16 against Alabama. Leonard Fournette will need a rejuvenation after his worst game of the season. Brandon Harris must prove all the doubters wrong once again. And LSU’s defense will need to rebound after being gouged by ‘Bama tailback Derrick Henry.
LSU still has plenty to play for, including an outside chance at the College Football Playoff. The Tigers need some help, but at No. 9 in the CFP rankings, they can play their way into the Playoff with some assistance along the way.
The road to redemption begins with the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tiger Stadium. Here’s everything you need to know about LSU-Arkansas:
Arkansas Razorbacks (5-4, 3-2 SEC) at No. 9 LSU Tigers (7-1, 4-1 SEC)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:15 p.m. ET
Weather: 67 degrees, 0 percent chance of rain
Line: LSU -8
By the numbers
129.8 – Fournette has averaged just 129.8 rushing yards over the last four games. He has not eclipsed the 200-yard mark since surpassing 200 yards in three consecutive games earlier this season.
247.3 – LSU’s secondary has allowed an average of 247.3 passing yards during its last four games. The Tigers have given up seven passing touchdowns and picked off only two passes within that span.
353.5 – Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen has averaged 353.5 passing yards over the last two contests. Allen has thrown eight touchdowns in wins over Tennessee-Martin and Ole Miss.
Story lines to watch
Can LSU prevent a letdown?
The Tigers could very well play sluggishly against a talented Arkansas team. LSU played poorly in its biggest game of the year against Alabama, and a letdown environment will be possible. Arkansas may be 5-4, but the Hogs will be riding high into Tiger Stadium after upsetting Ole Miss 53-52 in an overtime miracle. Of course, this is also a rivalry game, so a lack of intensity would kill the Tigers.
Can Fournette outrun Alex Collins?
Much was made about the matchup between Fournette and Alabama’s Derrick Henry last weekend, but this week’s tailback showdown will also be fun to watch. Arkansas’ Alex Collins has run for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Collins has run for at least 105 yards in each of his last three contests. LSU’s run defense ranks 16th in the country with an average of 113.3 rushing yards allowed.
Fournette will face another tough test against the Razorbacks front seven. Arkansas ranks 27th in the nation in run defense with 129.4 rushing yards allowed per game. The Razorbacks will be inclined to stack the box with defenders and force Harris to beat them with his arm.
Can Harris quiet the haters?
Arkansas defensive back Santos Ramirez had this to say about Harris:
“He is predictable where he wants to go,” Ramirez told The Arkansas News’ Eric W. Bolin. “He has got a good arm on him but he’s not as accurate. He’s not very good with the ball in terms of decision making, but he can really throw the ball and he can get receivers behind us and we have to be careful with it.”
Harris will be facing a Razorbacks defense that could be daring him to beat them with his arm. Harris has proven capable of making big throws occasionally, but he was unable to rally the Tigers past Alabama when Fournette struggled.
The Tigers will need better quarterback play if they have any hopes of climbing back into the College Football Playoff race.
Prediction: LSU 27, Arkansas 24
This will be another close, hard-fought game for LSU. Arkansas will get out to an early lead while LSU shakes off the cobwebs from its first loss of the season. However, Fournette will be out to prove he is still the front-runner in the Heisman Trophy race. He will propel LSU to a comeback win over Arkansas, who hasn’t been great in close games. LSU takes back The Golden Boot with a bounce-back victory.