LSU has played much better football since the upset loss to Troy and looks to finish the regular season with three straight victories, starting with an SEC matchup against visiting Arkansas on Saturday in the Battle for the Golden Boot. The 25th-ranked Tigers followed up the 24-21 loss to Troy with three consecutive wins and gave No. 1 Alabama all it could handle before succumbing in a 14-point loss last week.
“I’m excited about this football team,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron told reporters. “I’m excited to be in the locker room before the game, during the game and after the game. Love their attitude, love the way they held their head up high.” The Tigers have outgained their opponents in eight of nine games, including last week when they accumulated 306 yards against Alabama, and will need another strong performance against a desperate Arkansas team. The Razorbacks have won two straight by one point, including a 39-38 non-conference victory over Coastal Carolina last week, and need at least two victories in the final three contests to become bowl eligible. Arkansas is in the middle of pack offensively in the SEC, but has given up at least 37 points in all five league games and averaged 43.2 against in the last five contests overall.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: LSU -16.5
ABOUT ARKANSAS (4-5, 1-4 SEC): Senior quarterback Austin Allen, who threw for 3,430 yards last season, could return after missing the last four games with a shoulder injury but freshman Cole Kelley has played admirably (59.6 percent completion percentage, eight TDs, three interceptions). Junior wide receiver Jonathan Nance is the top target no matter who is under center with 33 catches, 497 yards and five TD receptions. The Razorbacks boast a balanced rushing attack, led by sophomore Devwah Whaley (428 yards, four TDs) and senior David Williams (425, five).
ABOUT LSU (6-3, 3-2): Senior Danny Etling completed 12-of-26 passes for 137 yards and an interception after connecting on 58.5 percent of his tosses with four TDs and no picks during the team’s three-game winning streak. Junior Derrius Guice boasts 782 yards and six TDs on the ground to move into sixth on the school’s all-time list (2,605) while senior Darrel Williams is next with 559 yards and six scores. Senior receiver D.J. Chark is Etling’s top option through the air with 25 receptions for 588 yards for the Tigers, who are averaging 25.4 points to rank 10th in the league.
1. LSU LB Arden Key is tied with Gabe Northern for third in school history with 21 sacks and two away from second.
2. The Razorbacks are 14th and last in the SEC in sacks (12) and in sacks allowed (28).
3. The Tigers have won 12 of the 20 Battles for the Golden Boot and are 38-22-2 all-time versus Arkansas.
PREDICTION: LSU 38, Arkansas 20