By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU WILL WIN IF …
Wake up call: A 14-point loss to Alabama should still have LSU feeling pretty good about itself after stringing together three consecutive victories before the bye week. Now the Tigers hit the home stretch with a rare early kickoff against an Arkansas team that’s been downright lousy of late. The challenge will be for Ed Orgeron to make sure his team approaches this 11 a.m. kickoff — the first in Tiger Stadium against an SEC foe since 2011 — like its Alabama on a Saturday night. If they do, LSU should roll to victory.
Get after the tall guy: The Hogs have struggled mightily to generate offense since quarterback Austin Allen went down with an injury, and after harassing Jalen Hurts last week, the LSU pass rush could have a field day going after 6-foot-7 freshman Cole Kelly. Allen could return this week, and LSU coach Ed Orgeron says the Tigers have prepared gameplans for either signal caller. Either way, Arkansas has allowed 28 sacks this season — only nine FBS teams have yielded more — and now must deal with Arden Key, who looks more and more like his old self every week. The Tigers rank sixth nationally with 3.33 sacks per game, a figure that should go up after Saturday.
ARKANSAS WILL WIN IF …
Shorten the game: Between the inexperienced defense and a suspect defense, Arkansas needs to do everything it can it facilitate a low-scoring game while trying to hang around. The Hogs haven’t been their usual selves running the ball this season, ranking No. 47 nationally at 182.6 YPG on the ground, but they’ve got to stick to it in hopes of controlling the clock and keeping that LSU pass rush from pinning its ears back and coming after Kelly. Bret Bielema needs his team to get back to winning ugly if they’re going to have a chance on the road here.
Start fast: Give Arkansas credit for coming back late to avoid a rock bottom kind of loss to dreadful Coastal Carolina, one of the worst FBS teams out there, but the fact they were ever in that position speaks to what kind of season it’s been in Fayetteville. The Hogs need to find some way to get an early lead and momentum against LSU if it’s going to pull the upset. Otherwise, LSU’s downhill ground game can go to work against the nation’s No. 96 rushing defense — yet another matchup factor that strongly favors LSU in this one.