Game Preview: LSU vs. Arkansas gives Tigers tough first road test under Ed Orgeron

Tiger Blitz previews LSU's matchup against Arkansas, where the Tigers look to bounce back after their loss to Alabama with a road SEC matchup against the Razorbacks.

WHEN: Saturday, November 12 at 6 pm CT
WHERE: Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)
TV/RADIO: ESPN/Tiger Sports Radio Network
SERIES: LSU leads 37-22-2
LAST MEETING: In 2015, LSU lost 31-17 in Tiger Stadium

Tiger Trends

The Tigers enter this game looking to avoid that post-Alabama letdown that has plagued LSU the last two years in losses to Arkansas. Ed Orgeron is really coaching for the job in this game. A win and Orgeron can expect to stay in the mix for the job. A loss and he's out in all likelihood. A big factor in this game will be LSU's offense being able to run the ball effectively against the Arkansas, which is dead last in the country in yards per carry. Orgeron said LSU is going to try to run the ball as the Tigers face a tough road environment. Running the ball will take a lot of the energy out of the stadium and be able to control the clock. A win-win for LSU.

Defensively, it's going to be a lot of pressure. In the Alabama game, LSU held the Tide to a season-low in points and yardage. That's a credit to Dave Aranda and not necessarily, Alabama being off. The Tigers forced two turnovers against Alabama, giving LSU's offense a short field to work with. While the Tigers couldn't capitalize, the team is certainly ready to go from a defensive perspective.

Scouting Arkansas

The Razorbacks come in off a dominant 31-10 victory over Florida in which Arkansas didn't allow an offensive touchdown by the Gators. The Razorbacks defense really stole the show for the most part in that one, limiting Florida to 241 total yards and 1-for-11 on third downs. That type of defense against a Gators offense that was limited with quarterback Luke Del Rio hurt for some of this matchup, is something Arkansas will have to match against LSU, who will try to run the ball against Arkansas. 

Quarterback Austin Allen has been beaten and battered by opposing defenses with the offensive line being reshuffled and just overall, not being very good this season for Bret Bielema's squad. Allen is solid at spreading the ball around to plenty of different playmakers for the Hogs as the team is about as balanced as they come, but like LSU, rely heavily on the run game being on for a lot of their success. The Florida game was arguably Arkansas' best game of the season. Of course, LSU will have to contend with a team peaking following their loss to Alabama.

USA Today images

Matchup to Watch

OT Dan Skipper versus DL Arden Key: Arkansas' hulking 6-10 offensive lineman is one of the better tackles in the SEC, but he's in for a real test against LSU's Arden Key. Against Florida, Skipper struggled in pass protection at times and while he bends well for an offensive tackle, Key should have a good day against Skipper in all likelihood. Key has the quickness advantage against Skipper. I'd imagine the Hogs will try to take advantage of that if they can with some draws and deception to keep Key off balance.


Keys to the Game

Danny Etling. Newsflash: quarterback play is key. LSU did not have it last week against Alabama. If the Tigers are going to have any sort of success, Etling has to have time and be on. If he's not, Arkansas could (and really should) load the box with defenders trying to stop the run. That's just about how LSU is going to have beat the Hogs.

Take the ball away. Usually for a road game, LSU has to take care of the ball itself (and it does), but to take the air out of the stadium, nothing does it like a home team turnover. Arkansas did it against Florida when Allen threw a pick-six. The stadium was pretty quiet following that and that allowed LSU to really get things going.

What to Watch For

When LSU is on Offense: Ed Orgeron teased that LSU has installed new plays and wrinkles this week in preparation for Arkansas. Whether we see those plays or not will remain to be seen. Ideally, those plays contain a little bit more screen game to help Etling and much more Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice than happened last week.

When LSU is on Defense: Not to say same old, same old, but it's true. LSU has allowed nine touchdowns in eight games this season. If there's one thing that's beginning to hold true, it's that the Tigers' defense is going to be up for just about any challenge. Now, the team is coming off an emotional loss to Alabama so starting well will be key for LSU's defense. A few early stops and the great play should continue.

When Arkansas is on Offense: Rawleigh Williams and Devwah Whaley combine to make a formidable 1-2 punch for the Hogs. Austin Allen has been beaten and battered this season behind his offensive line, but the team has reshuffled a little bit along the line and gotten some better results. This is a pro-style attack that has great success in the play-action game and intermediate passing game. If Allen can get any sort of time, he's one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the SEC.

When Arkansas is on Defense: The edges. Arkansas allows 6.1 yards per carry against the rush, but over eight yards per carry on the edge rushes. That's brutal defense. If LSU can test them and have success with Fournette and Guice, it could be a long day for the Razorbacks. This is one of those games that LSU should win on paper, but you just never know until we see what time LSU has out there. Arkansas' defense will tell a lot about how this one will go.

Tiger Blitz Predictions

Billy: I'm cautious by the post-Alabama hangover for LSU, but like I've said these past couple weeks, this is a different team than ones in years past. I don't think LSU runs Arkansas off the field, but because of LSU's defense, this is worse than it seems. Defensive touchdown keys the LSU victory and just the second time in the past 10 meetings that LSU would have covered the spread against Arkansas. LSU 24, Arkansas 10.

Murf: Arkansas' throw game may be the best in the league, as it possesses the best QB and a very capable receiver corps. If its return to being committed to the run continues to play out, it may give LSU all it can handle. But that's a tough to ask as LSU's defensive front is hitting on all cylinders and may shut down the run and harass QB Austin Allen. Not to mention a leaky, suspect Razorback D has to try an corral a physical LSU approach. LSU 28, Arkansas 17.

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