No. 16 LSU Tigers (7-3 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-5 SU, 7-2 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date and Time: Saturday November 15th, 2014. 8:00PM EST
Where: Razorback Stadium Fayetteville, A.R.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LSU -2/ARK +2
Over/Under Total: TBA
Last week the LSU Tigers suffered a rare loss at home under the lights inside Tiger Stadium with a 20-13 defeat from Alabama in overtime. The loss knocked Les Miles Tigers back to 7-3 SU on the season with two remaining games left on the regular season schedule. This week the Tigers look to bounce back as they travel to Fayetteville for a date with a familiar foe in the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Arkansas-LSU rivalry goes back to 1901 when these schools met for the first time and was renewed annually when Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992. This Saturday the rivalry flame will be rekindled once again when LSU meets Arkansas inside Razorback Stadium with the Golden Boot trophy up for grabs.
Despite being considered the worse team in the SEC West and being winless in the SEC this season, the Razorbacks are currently listed as just 2 point underdogs for this Saturday nights highly anticipated contest. In fact, the Razorbacks are currently in the midst of a long 17 game losing streak in conference play. However, Arkansas is improving under first year coach Bret Bielema and they are far from a bad team. The Razorbacks took both Texas A&M and Alabama down to the wire and played top ranked Mississippi State as well as any team has all season two weeks ago in a 17-10 loss in Starkville. Therefore this Razorbacks team has been knocking on the door all season and perhaps this Saturday the door will finally open.
Despite their 4-5 SU label, the Razorbacks own one of the most prolific rushing attacks in college football averaging 248 yards per game on the ground. The offense is fortunate enough to have two outstanding running backs in Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. Both backs have shared carries this season but have been equally successful. In fact, the numbers appear nearly identical. Williams has carried the ball 137 times for 877 yards with 10 touchdowns. Collins has carried the ball 134 times for 840 yards with 10 touchdowns also on the ground. Together both backs make up a tremendous running force for the Razorbacks and quarterback Brandon Allen has added 15 passing touchdowns on the year. However Arkansas is not a throwing football team and rely heavily on the ground game to open up plays in the passing attack.
One of the telling tales for this Saturdays contest will be the play of the LSU defense. The Tigers defense has held their own in recent weeks despite the offense scoring just 10 points in the win against Ole Miss and 13 points in last weeks overtime loss to Alabama. The LSU defense has been great giving up just 16.3 points per game as the 5th best scoring defense in the FBS. This week it will be interesting to see how that Tigers defense performs outside of Baton Rouge against a relentless rushing attack in Arkansas.
One thing that is certain is that the LSU offense has faced their share of struggles this year. This offense was held to 23 points in the last two games, held to just 7 points in the loss to Auburn, and was held virtually scoreless through the first 3 quarters of the Mississippi State loss before a 4th quarter rally made the score appear much closer than it was. If LSU is going to close out this season on a positive note and make a push for 10 wins, the Tigers offense has to pick up the pace.
The guy that really needs to step up his game is quarterback Anthony Jennings. LSU has one of the best power rushing attacks in the country with tailbacks Kenny Hilliard and Leonard Fournette. The problem has been that defenses have sold out to stop the run and the passing game has not been able to compensate. Jennings has shockingly completed 50% passing or less in each of his last 7 games which includes just 4 touchdown passes with 5 interceptions. Jennings has to give the passing attack a better chance to move defenses out of the box. If that does not happen, LSU will be in trouble this Saturday.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think this game could be one of the biggest surprises of the weekend. I expect the Razorbacks to jump on LSU and not look back. Consider this a bold prediction but Arkansas wins convincingly. Take Arkansas +2