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Week 13 – LSU at Arkansas
Posted Nov 22, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – LSU at Arkansas

LSU (9-2) at Arkansas (4-7) Nov. 23, 2:30, CBS

Here’s The Deal: Just 12 short weeks ago this had the look of an epic showdown with massive SEC West and BCS implications. LSU is still on life support for the BCS championship, but realistically, the Tigers are merely jockeying for bowl position and hoping for Florida State to beat Florida to be in the mix for an at-large BCS game.

The Tigers were hardly impressive in a win over Ole Miss to close out the home slate, and they’ve been hit-or-miss in terms of effort and consistency, but they’re 9-2 with a shot at a third straight ten-win season and a strong year despite the two defeats. It hasn’t been easy, but scoreboard and the record isn’t bad thanks to a terrific defense – despite taking the week off against the Rebels – and strong special teas.

Arkansas made a little bit of noise winning three times in four games to get back in the bowl hunt, and then the schedule turned back around with road dates at South Carolina and Mississippi State ending the fun and putting a nail in the coffin for one of college football’s most disappointing teams. The Hogs have been way too sloppy and the running game hasn’t worked, but for all the problems and for all the issues – especially considering the holding pattern the program is in going into the offseason – a win over LSU would be a little bit of a high note to close on.

Arkansas has won three of the last five games in the series, but LSU won the previous four times.

Why LSU Might Win: Turnover margin. As if Arkansas didn’t have enough problems talent-wise against the Tigers, there should be too many problems hanging on to the ball. To win, the Hogs have to force a ton of mistakes and the offense has to capitalize on all of them. However, LSU has come up with 25 takeaways coming on a consistent basis. There might have been three giveaways last week against Ole Miss, but the defense picked up the slack with four takeaways. On the other side, Arkansas is second-to-last in the nation in turnover margin with an offense that has given the ball away 29 times – the team has fumbled a whopping 33 times, but lost 14 – while the defense struggles too much to take the ball away. If LSU plays a clean game, it should win without breaking much of a sweat.

Why Arkansas Might Win: LSU hasn’t faced too many great passing games this year. Johnny Manziel threw three picks, but he also put up 276 yards in the Texas A&M loss to LSU. Alabama’s A.J. McCarron had a nightmare of a time, but he came through when he had to in the end. Arkansas is going to push the LSU secondary hard with plenty of downfield passes to try loosening things up a bit for Tyler Wilson and the underneath throws. Defensively, Arkansas can’t stop anyone’s passing game, but the run defense has been fine. LSU’s Zach Mettenberger has been solid lately, but he’s about to be under plenty of pressure from a good Hog pass rush. If he gets time, he should have a big day, but LSU will likely want to try pounding away first. That could be a problem against a D that’s allowing just 127 yards per game on the ground thanks to a decent front four that hasn’t received any respect thanks to the team’s awful season.

What To Watch Out For: Relatively quietly, Arkansas senior Cobi Hamilton has put up a strong, All-SEC caliber season catching 80 passes for 1,237 yards and five scores. Could he step up and become a No. 1 target after serving as a complementary receiver for a few years? Absolutely, coming up with double-digit grabs in four games, and while three of his touchdowns came against Rutgers, and last week was his first scoring play in seven weeks, he has been able to produce even though every D is concentrating on stopping him. He made two catches for 75 yards in last year’s loss to LSU, but he lit up the Tigers for 164 yards and two scores on just three catches in the win in 2010. Arkansas can’t win if he doesn’t have a big day.

What Will Happen: Arkansas will have a few big moments and LSU won’t come up with its A game, but the defense will finish with four takeaways and the punting game will keep the Hog offense pinned just deep enough to come up with the win.

CFN Prediction: LSU 34 … Arkansas 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) LSU -12.5 O/U: 51
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 2.5