2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 13 - Arkansas at LSU
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Nov. 25 at LSU 41 … Arkansas 17
CFN Analysis: LSU didn’t panic after everything went wrong early on. The coaching staff didn’t make a change after Jordan Jefferson got off to a bad start, the defense didn’t change much up, and the team just let its talent shine through. … Jefferson threw one bad pick, but that was it for the big errors. He finished completing 18-of-29 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and a pick while running seven times for 53 yards and a score. … Tyrann Mattheu is a great corner, but he’s a special safety. He’s at his best when he gets room to move and make things happen. … LSU is in the national title no matter what. Even if the Tigers lose to Georgia and everyone else of note wins, the voters aren’t going to move them down past two.
Tyler Wilson had a better game than his stats. While 60 of his 207 passing yards came on one play, and he finished 14-of-22 with a touchdown and a pick, he held up well under the pressure and without a ground game to help the cause. … The running game couldn’t find any sort of a groove finishing with 47 yards and averaging 1.7 yards per carry. … The Hogs didn’t take advantage of the early field position as well as they should’ve. They kept the Tigers pinned deep early on and had several chances to take control of the game, but it didn’t happen. One 92-yard Tyrann Mathieu punt return later, and it was 14-14 and all the momentum was gone. … There are worse things than being blown out by Alabama and LSU. Arkansas still might be the No. 3-ranked team in the nation behind those two.
(AP) BATON ROUGE, La. -- Tyrann Mathieu channeled his best Billy Cannon and No. 1 LSU was on its way to another run-away victory in the biggest game at Tiger Stadium in half a century.
Mathieu returned a punt 92 yards for a score and the Tigers punished third-ranked Arkansas with 286 yards rushing, wiping out a 14-point deficit with a 41-17 win Friday that secured a spot in the SEC championship.
Kenny Hilliard, Spencer Ware and Jordan Jefferson all scored on the ground for LSU (12-0, 8-0 SEC), which is 12-0 for the first time and will play No. 13 Georgia next weekend in Atlanta.
A win over the Bulldogs would assure the Tigers their third trip to the BCS title game in nine seasons. Though at this point, LSU might be able to get there even if it loses.
Arkansas took a surprising 14-0 lead on Tyler Wilson's TD pass to Jarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith's 47-yard fumble return, but LSU stormed back by scoring 41 of the next 44 points in the game.
The rivalry game known as the battle for "The Boot," a trophy in the shape of Arkansas and Louisiana, marked the first time two teams ranked in the top three had met in Death Valley since 1959, when Cannon's 89-yard punt return lifted No. 1 LSU to a 7-3 win over No. 3 Mississippi.
Cannon also made a game-sealing tackle on defense late in that game. Mathieu, who was playing safety instead of cornerback much of the game because of Eric Reid's injury the previous week, had defensive highlights of his own, forcing two turnovers with strips, one of which he recovered.
He now has six forced fumbles this season. His fifth was a strip of running back Dennis Johnson in LSU territory late in the first half. That set up a touchdown drive that put the Tigers ahead to stay.
LSU trailed 14-7 when Mathieu fielded Dylan Breeding's end-over-end kick at his own 8, started left, made a hard cut straight up field, then angled left again to break into the clear.
It was Mathieu's third touchdown of the season, his second on special teams, the other coming on a fumble return.
LSU's defense sacked Wilson five times (twice by Barkevious Mingo) and picked him off once on Morris Claiborne's team-leading fifth interception of the season.
Two plays later, Jefferson ran 48 yards for his score on a quarterback draw that was wide open, making it 38-17.
Wilson completed 14 of 22 passes for 207 yards, with 60 yards on a short pass that Cobi Hamilton turned into a long gain. The play put Arkansas in position to tie the game at 21, but LSU's defense forced a field goal that made it 21-17, and the Razorbacks never got closer than that again.
Jefferson was 18 of 29 for 208 yards and one touchdown, a 9-yard pass to Russell Shepard that gave LSU the lead for good at with 59 seconds left in the first half. His first interception of the season kept Arkansas in the game in the third quarter, but otherwise he was excellent.
Hilliard finished with a career-high 102 yards rushing on 19 carries, while Michael Ford rushed 11 times for 96 yards.
Arkansas (10-1) at LSU (11-0) Nov. 25, 2:30, CBS
Here’s The Deal … Where did this come from?
SEC fans know about Arkansas and how potent and how talented it is, but on a national scale there’s been little buzz ever since Alabama came up with a 38-14 thumping over the Hogs in late September. Mediocre performances against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt didn’t help the cause, but the wins kept on coming against the lousy SEC teams with no offenses, and then, out of the blue, the light turned on and a big win over South Carolina and a blowout of Tennessee put the team into the No. 3 spot in the BCS rankings and within a heartbeat of playing for the national title.
To simplify this as much as possible, here’s the deal. Let’s assume Alabama will beat Auburn. If Arkansas wins, then there will be a three-way tie-breaker in the SEC that’ll come down to a combination of the BCS standings and head-to-head play. It’s possible that if Bama obliterates the Tigers and Arkansas looks good against LSU that it could be Tide 1, Hogs, 2, and Tigers 3 in the BCS rankings. If that happens, Alabama will play for the SEC title and Arkansas might play for the national title by being in the top two. If it’s Tide 1, Tigers, 2, and Hogs 3 after an Arkansas win, LSU will play in the SEC championship. Arkansas’ only real hope of playing for the SEC championship is with a win and an Alabama loss.
Basically no matter what else happens, the winner of this game will probably play in the BCS championship.
LSU has been dominant. Outside of the overtime win over Alabama, no one else has come closer than 26 points since mid-September and the Tiger defense has allowed a grand total of 53 points over the last seven games. The D is No. 2 in the nation in yards and points allowed – behind Alabama in both areas – and it’s in the top five in every major category.
But it hasn’t faced an offense like Arkansas’ since West Virginia bombed away on September 24th.
Being the best offense in the SEC this year is sort of like being the best Tim Tebow pass, but the Hog attack really is terrific averaging 463 yards per game and blowing up through the air. Can the offense be enough to penetrate the dominant defense? Can the Tigers hold up under the pressure? It’s this week’s Game of the Century, and one way or another, this will be like a semi-final playoff game.
Why Arkansas Might Win: No one in the SEC can throw. LSU got Florida without John Brantley, faced Tennessee without Tyler Bray, and got Auburn with Clint Moseley being thrown to the wolves. The LSU secondary has only been tested twice. Oregon’s Darron Thomas threw for 240 yards when the gimmicky Duck ground game didn’t work, and West Virginia’s Geno Smith threw for 463 yards and two scores, giving the Tigers a scare going into the fourth quarter. Tyler Wilson won’t have any fears or any problems pushing the ball down the field, and by far, this will be the best receiving corps LSU has faced so far.
Outside of one awful throw, Wilson held up well against South Carolina’s pass rush, and he’s not making a slew of big mistakes with just two picks in his last seven games. The LSU pass rush is strong, and it’ll have its moments, but the Hog line is just good enough to give Wilson the time he needs to work. There won’t be any Arkansas running game to speak of against the swarming LSU front seven, but Wilson can handle the workload. The Hogs can throw on the Tigers, but the Tigers can’t throw on the Hogs.
Why LSU Might Win: Yeah, LSU hasn’t seen too many teams that can throw, but the Arkansas defensive front hasn’t faced anyone other than Alabama who can line up and bludgeon with the ground game. Bama didn’t destroy the Arkansas D, but Trent Richardson came up with 126 yards averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Auburn tore off 291 yards and two scores, Vanderbilt came up with 222 yards and three touchdowns, and Texas A&M ripped off 381 yards and five touchdowns. LSU will pound away, pound away, and pound away some more.
Arkansas will have to be perfect, but more importantly, it’ll have to force LSU mistake. The one problem, though, is that LSU isn’t screwing up with just 20 penalties over the last four games, one lost fumble in the last nine games, and just Jarrett Lee’s two interceptions against Alabama and a pick against Mississippi State. LSU has turned the ball over just six times on the year, while Arkansas has given it up six times in the last four games. Defensively, how good have the Tigers been? They’ve allowed more than 300 yards of total offense to Oregon and West Virginia. No one else has hit the mark.
What To Watch Out For: It’s going to be the matchup the NFL types are going to be paying attention to with a finetooth DVR remote. Arkansas WR Jarius Wright went over the 1,000-yard mark last week and leads the team with 61 catches on the year, but he has yet to do too much against LSU with 13 catches for 171 yards and a score in three games. LSU has one of the fastest most athletic secondaries in the country, and Wright has to show off his wheels to stretch the field. Trying to stop him most of the time will be Morris Claiborne, a Thorpe finalist who’s as much of a representative for the entire secondary than he is a singular star. Eric Reid and Tyrann Mathieu have also been terrific, but it’s Claiborne who leads the team with four picks to go along with 40 tackles and five broken up passes.
The game is completely and totally on Tyler Wilson. Arkansas will make the attempt at running the ball but it’s not going to work and Wilson will have to come up with every right decision and he’ll have to make every right throw; even if it means putting it into the fourth row from time to time. He threw the ball 43 times against both Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, and 51 times against Texas A&M, but against LSU he probably won’t get that many chances. If he can connect on 60% of his throws for close to 300 yards and a two touchdowns, the Hogs will have a shot at pulling this off.
What Will Happen: Arkansas won’t pull this off. This is a special LSU team that rises to every occasion, and the team appears to be sick of all the talk about the Hogs coming into Death Valley and pulling off the stunner. After losing to Arkansas two of the last three years, LSU is going to give this game its full attention while flexing a little national champion muscle. The running game will control things from the start, while the secondary will clamp down on the Hog receivers just enough to keep Wilson from blowing up.
CFN Prediction: LSU 38 … Arkansas 14
Click For Latest Line From ATS: LSU -11.5 O/U: 52
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