Following a loss to Alabama in prime time last Saturday night, LSU has dropped out of the College Football Playoff picture and faces an uphill battle to sneak back in.
No. 9 LSU (7-1) looks to rebound from its first loss of the season this Saturday night at home against Arkansas, which has won three games in a row, including a monumental upset of Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., last weekend.
LSU is a 7.5-point favorite against the Razorbacks, according to VegasInsider.com. But this game could wind up being closer than originally anticipated.
Here are three reasons why Arkansas could pull off the upset of LSU:
Arkansas’ streaking offense
At 2-4 through the first six weeks, Arkansas’ offense averaged a pedestrian 23.8 points per game.
After a bye week, the Razorbacks fired back with three consecutive games scoring at least 53 points — not surprisingly, all have resulted in wins.
Over the past three contests, Arkansas has scored a combined 170 points (56.7 points per game). The last time an Arkansas team scored 50 or more points against an SEC opponent — prior to this season — was November 2007 against LSU.
Arkansas ranks 36th in the nation in scoring offense (34.8 points per game), which is the highest among any SEC opponents LSU has faced this season. Only Western Kentucky, who LSU beat on Oct. 24, has averaged more points per game.
Winning on the road
Even during the team’s struggles early in the season, winning away from Fayetteville, Ark., has not been an issue for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas is 2-1 on the road if you don’t pay attention to its 0-2 mark at neutral locations. Arkansas beat Tennessee and Ole Miss on the road and lost its two games at neutral sites by a combined 11 points.
LSU is 5-0 in Death Valley this season, including its de facto home game against South Carolina, which was supposed to be played at Williams-Brice Stadium before flooding struck the Columbia, S.C., region.
However, LSU’s home victories have come against teams with a combined 9-14 record on the road.
LSU’s home-field advantage could truly be in jeopardy in this game.
The Brandon Allen factor
For a second consecutive week, LSU will have a disadvantage when it comes to the quarterback position.
Last week, Brandon Harris completed just 6 of 19 pass attempts for 128 yards. He was outplayed by Alabama’s Jake Coker, who went 18-of-24 and helped the Crimson Tide convert 7-of-15 third downs.
Next up, the LSU defense will have to deal with Brandon Allen, who leads the SEC with a 164.7 passing efficiency and ranks eighth nationally. Allen has led Arkansas to touchdowns on 14 of the offense’s last 20 drives.
The Razorbacks quarterback has completed nearly 73 percent of his passes for 825 yards and 10 touchdowns compared to zero interceptions over his last nine quarters of action. Due in part to Allen, the offense hasn’t had a dreaded three-and-out in its last 23 drives.
In other words, Allen has the Hogs scoring, and scoring often. The offense has converted 53 percent (19-of-36) of its third downs over the past three games and has not turned the ball over.
Allen leads an offense unlike any that LSU has seen this season and he’s playing at an exceptionally high level at this point in the season. Good quarterback play will keep any team in the game.