Welcome to Four Downs, our weekly day-before blog post highlighting four storylines of this week’s game. By the end of it, hopefully you’ll be saturated with informative copy. Let’s start this thing.
Turkey Hangover: The win over Texas A&M was great and all. Shutting down reigning Hesiman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was better. But the big victory over the then-No. 9 Aggies will seem so less significant if LSU drops a game to three-win Arkansas.
The loss would likely send an LSU team, on path to a top-tier SEC bowl, to a middle-of-the-pack postseason game. A 10-win season, a school-record fourth straight, would be shot, and a home crowd would leave shaking their heads and stomping their feet.
Upsets happen in this series.
The Bright Spots: Arkansas is winless in the SEC for a reason. The Hogs are at the bottom of the league in most statistical categories. However, they do two things pretty well.
The Razorbacks get pressure on the quarterback. Their 25 sacks are third in the conference. Two, the Hogs run the football well. They average 211 yards rushing a game, more than LSU and tied for third in the SEC.
Arkansas tailback Alex Collins leads the nation among freshman running backs with 998 yards. The Hogs have another back, Jonathan Williams, who has more than 800 yards. Together, they average around 6 yards a carry.
Last Round: Before kickoff, about 15 seniors will be honored in Tiger Stadium. The key weapons on one of the program’s most successful offenses will likely play their final home game: QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Jeremy Hill and receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Mettenberger’s a senior. The others are likely heading to the NFL, most think. This is the last shot for the home crowd to witness an air and ground attack that’ll go down in LSU history.
It’s the final time the unit’s stars will play in a regular season college game. Defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson are highly projected NFL draft picks as well and so is left tackle La’el Collins. In all, six or so non-seniors may be playing for the final time.
Winning Big: Look, we all know that Arkansas isn’t a great football team. The Hogs have lost six of seven SEC games by double digits, including four by 18 or more. LSU’s a whopping 25-point favorite.
So, what are we getting at? LSU’s fans and the nation watching on TV are expecting a big Tigers win. The pressure’s on – win big, LSU. It wouldn’t just help perception, recruiting, etc., but bowl executives want a red-hot team with an excited fan base.
A blasting of Texas A&M and then a whipping of lowly Arkansas? That’d qualify as a hot finish.