Baton Rouge, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Arkansas Razorbacks will try to pull off a shocking upset as they conclude their regular season against the 15th- ranked LSU Tigers in a SEC bout at Tiger Stadium.
Since winning their first three games of the season, the Razorbacks have suffered eight consecutive losses. Arkansas battled Mississippi State last Saturday into overtime, but fell to the Bulldogs, 24-17, to drop to 0-7 in conference action. In his first year as the program's head coach, Bret Bielema will experience his first losing record after seven straight trips to bowl games at Wisconsin. He kept his team's spirits high, hoping to send his seniors off on a successful note.
"Hey, obviously I'm disappointed in not being able to win the game on Saturday. We did a lot of positive things and did enough things that prevented us from winning," said Bielema. "We've got six days together. We've got six days that this room is going to be the exact same that it is right now. After that, the seniors will leave us and you never know what happens with any year. So let's embrace these next six days, have fun with it, try to make the most of a very difficult situation and do something that you can remember for a lifetime."
Unfortunately, Arkansas will be colliding with a red-hot Tigers squad that just dispatched Texas A&M, 34-10, last week to improve to 8-3 overall. LSU will be looking to improve to 7-0 at home on the season as it competes with the Razorbacks for "The Boot". Coach Les Miles has guided his team to a 4-3 SEC record.
LSU defeated Arkansas, 20-13, in Fayetteville on Black Friday in 2012 to improve to 36-20-2 versus the Razorbacks in history. Miles is not taking anything for granted heading into this week's matchup despite the recent woes of the visitors.
"The Arkansas team is a very good football team," said Miles. "They are a team that has talent and they are a team that can run the football and they are a defense that flies to the ball, as well. Coach Bielema has done a great job at getting them to play. They play hard every week."
The Razorbacks have had growing pains this season as 90.8 percent of their total offense has come courtesy of underclassmen. They have produced only 20.1 points per game to rank second to last in the SEC. Arkansas was held to just 339 total yards by MSU last week. Nine different players contributed positively to the 225 rushing yards with sophomore tailback Jonathan Williams leading the pack with 59 yards on eight carries. Freshman halfback Alex Collins is pacing the Razorbacks on the season with 998 yards on 179 carries.
Sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen completed 10-of-17 pass attempts for only 114 yards and was intercepted once by the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-3 signal caller has completed only 47.6 percent of his throws this season to average 137.4 yards with 11 TDs against nine interceptions. Javontee Herndon is the Razorbacks leading receiver with only 38.2 ypg.
Arkansas has not been much better on the defensive side of the ball as it is 12th in the conference in points allowed per game (30.7) and 11th in total yards allowed (408.3). The Razorbacks surrendered 488 total yards to MSU last week, but they held the Bulldogs to just one touchdown and one field goal on five red zone trips. Alan Turner made a game-high 16 tackles in the loss, while Trey Flowers registered 2.5 TFL to bring his season-total to 12.5, which is the second most in the SEC.
Arkansas will have its hands full as it tries to slow down LSU's star running back tandem of Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee, who racked up 149 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries versus Texas A&M last week to spearhead the charge.
"Basically what you ask Terrence Magee, is, hey, Terrence, I need you to do this," said Miles. "He says, "Yes, Coach, "and he just does it and does it with everything that he has and every ability and talent. I think he adds to this team greatly."
While Magee led the team last week, he is still the Tigers' second option on the ground with season totals of 556 yards and six TDs on 72 attempts. Hill has rushed 155 times for 1,040 yards and 13 scores. LSU is not one-dimensional by any means.
For the first time in school history LSU has a 2,500-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season.Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger needs just 74 passing yards to become the third player in school history with 3,000 yards in a season. The veteran has completed 65 percent of his attempts, with 22 TDs and only seven picks.
Jarvis Landry (67 catches, 1,059 yards, 10 TDs) and Odell Beckham Jr. (56 catches, 1,101 yards, eight TDs) form one of the most dynamic wideout duos in the nation. No other team in the FBS has more than one 1,000-yard receiver entering the final week of the season.
Defensively, LSU is allowing only 22.3 points and 348.7 yards per game. The Tigers held the Aggies to only 299 total yards and 10 points last week, both of which set single-game lows for TAMU under second-year coach Kevin Sumlin. Senior linebacker Lamin Barrow has recorded a team-high 80 tackles and will be one of the key players on the defensive side of the ball for his final game at Tiger Stadium.