After securing a thrilling double overtime win against a tough Mississippi State squad, the Razorbacks turn their attention to the LSU Tigers. The 2:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday will be televised by CBS.
As expected, LSU beat a reeling Ole Miss team last week, but the 43-36 win was less than spectacular. The Tigers needed a Stevan Ridley 7-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds remaining in the game to thwart the upset-minded Black Bears. Obviously LSU was caught looking ahead.
However, with a potential BCS Bowl bid on the line if things fall right, both sides will be jacked to play this finale. Rumors this week indicate the Hogs, with a loss, might find themselves sliding all the way down to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. It appears the Cotton Bowl might want to avoid a Texas A&M rematch with a 9-3 Arkansas team. Sugar Bowl to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl — that’s a wide range of possibilities.
The Tigers are coached — and we use that term loosely — by Les Miles, the lovable, village idiot of the SEC. Miles (61-16, 6th year at LSU), once known only for his propensity to wear 10-gallon sized baseball caps, has recently taken his game to a new level.
The latest: during a critical moment in the Alabama game, cameras caught a nervous Miles picking at the grass and then eating it. Yes…like a cow…grazing on the Tiger Stadium turf.
“I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man, that lets me know that I’m a part of the field, a part of the game and it’s the very bottom as well as the very top and it could be all over the Internet, but, you know what? You should have seen some games before this. I tell you one thing. The grass at Tiger Stadium tastes best.” — Les Miles
The 2010 Tigers embody the ‘better to be lucky, than good’ mantra. Wild finishes at Florida (33-29) and at home against Tennessee (16-14), have allowed the Tigers to turn two losses into cheap wins.
With few exceptions, the LSU defense has been solid. Running mostly out of a 4-3 look, defensive coordinator John Chavis has this side of the ball playing at a championship level. Defensive tackles Drake Nevis (6-1, 285) and Lazarius Levingston (6-4, 280) have proven to be difficult to handle. Safety Patrick Peterson (4 interceptions) is a first team All-American with ‘First-Round NFL’ skills.
All of the questions marks for this team reside at the quarterback position. The early season offensive woes for the Tigers stem from poor play from junior Jordan Jefferson (1,069 yards, 4 TDs, 9 interceptions). Jefferson, the two-year starter, has split time with junior Jarrett Lee of late, and has picked up the pace some since a win over Alabama. Running back Stevan Ridley (967 yards, 12 TDs) has been a consistent performer.
Jefferson and Lee have been so bad that LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton opted to not even work on the passing game in recent rent-a-wins vs. McNeese State (103 yards) and Louisiana-Monroe (8-for-22, 95 yards). They might regret that come Saturday.
The Tiger special teams are led by kicker Josh Jasper. The senior from Memphis has had a spectacular season (23-of-27 FGs), especially from long range. A definite weapon.
If the Razorbacks are going to have success Saturday, Willy Robinson’s crew will have to make sure and stop Ridley first. While Jefferson is fast, he is not a willing option runner like Cam Newton or Chris Relf. Forcing Jefferson to make plays in the passing game is where the Hogs would like to live. The crowd should take care of the rest. Arkansas is favored by 3 1/2 points.