Head to Head:
Arkansas WR vs. LSU FS
Casey Dick vs. Laron Landry
Arkansas freshman Casey Dick was inserted into the lineup three weeks ago when Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt finally pulled the plug on Robert Johnson. Arkansas' offense was one badly dimensional so Nutt figured putting in the freshman couldn't hurt. The Hawgs aren't much better on offense, but at least Dick has a good completion percentage and is doing a good job of running the offense. Look for LSU to send LaRon Landry on those delayed safety blitzes to harass Dick.
Arkansas OL vs. LSU RB
Sam Olajabutu vs. Justin Vincent
Sam Olajabutu is a definite award candidate and with his numbers you'll understand why. Olajabutu leads the Razorbacks with 111 total tackles, including 12.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks. Justin Vincent has gotten a great many reps over the past few games due to an injury to Joseph Addai and look for that trend to continue as LSU gets closer to the postseason.
Player to Watch:
Pulaski Oak Grove HS
North Little Rock, Ark.
Why it is important to stop him:
Arkansas has one of the top rushing attacks in all of college football. The Razorbacks ground game is led by freshman Darren McFadden. Against Mississippi State last week, McFadden went over the 1,000-yard mark and enters the LSU game with 1,056 yards, only the sixth SEC freshman ever to eclipse the 1,000 yard total. McFadden has put together several big games including a monster outing at Georgia.
Who has to stop him?
The LSU Tigers rank in the top 10 in Division I-A in rushing defense. The Tiger stoppers are allowing only 96 yards per contest. Only Auburn and Kenny Irons have gained substantial yards against the LSU defense. McFadden is the real deal and may be better than Irons. It would be scary to see if he was on a better team.
LSU rushing offense vs. Arkansas rushing defense:
The Razorbacks are pretty good against the run. The Hawgs are giving up 135 yards per game on the ground, good enough for 42nd nationally. Problem is, the Tigers are racking up 149 yards per contest. Joseph Addai seems to be back in full form pre-injury during the North Texas game and Justin Vincent is getting better and better. Even JaMarcus Russell is finding some running room and isn't afraid to lower a shoulder.
LSU passing offense vs. Arkansas passing defense:
Did anyone watch Arkansas get torched by USC. The Razorbacks gave up 70 points and a ton of passing yards to Matt Leinart and Southern Cal. Presently, Arkansas is allowing 210 yards per game through the air, a respectable 49th in the nation. Russell is getting better from week to week and finally seems to be in a groove with his talented receiving corps
Arkansas rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense:
The Tigers are very good against the run, there is no denying that. LSU has surrendered a stingy 96 yards per game on the ground and just one 100-yard rusher this season, that was Auburn's Kenny Irons. The Tigers may be facing the league's top back in Arkansas' Darren McFadden. The Razorbacks won't get many advantages in this game, so we'll tip the cap in their favor here. Besides, Arkansas is ninth in the nation in rushing putting up 235 yards per game.
Arkansas passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:
Passing offense: Yeah right. The Hogs pass on the pass, not by choice but by the fact they can't pitch it in the ocean when standing on the beach. Robert Johnson got yanked three weeks ago for freshman Casey Dick and things have improved a bit. The Hawgs are 2-1 with Dick at the helm. But don't expect the Razorbacks to reach their average of 137 yards per game, which is 109th in the nation.
LSU special teams vs. Arkansas special teams:
Special teams isn't just about kicking field goals. Tiger kicker Chris Jackson is 7 of 15 on field goals, which isn't all that great. But Jackson is much more valuable than just kicking field goals. LSU is second in the nation in net punting averaging 39.78 net yards per punt. Against Ole Miss, five times LSU stopped the Rebels inside the 20 on kickoffs. The Tigers are fourth nationally in kickoff return defense at 16 yards per game. Against the punt, LSU ranks 10th in return defense (five yards per return).
At this point, nothing is going to stand between LSU and the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers have played some big games this season beating Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Arizona State, but none is bigger than Friday's contest because lose it and there is no shot at the league title. You can bet Les Miles is going to have his troops flying sky high.
Arkansas is playing much better than it was earlier in the season. The Razorbacks dominated Mississippi State a week ago 44-10 and freshman tailback Darren McFadden is quickly growing into one of the league's top backs. But Arkansas will still be grossly outmanned and its one-dimensional offense will be exploited by the Tigers dominating defense. Look for the Razorbacks to give LSU their all – as usual – but the Tigers should pull away at the end and begin packing the bags for Atlanta.
LSU 28, Arkansas 9
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