OK, so the LSU-Arkansas game is somewhat anti-climactic.
The Tigers are eliminated from the SEC West race after a 29-0 whipping at the hands of No. 1 Alabama last week, a loss that all but knocked them out of the Playoff race, though they dropped to just No. 7 in the latest rankings.
As for the Razorbacks, they never were expected to contend in the SEC West, but at 2-7 (and 0-5 in the SEC) they aren’t going to be able to make a bowl game in Chad Morris’ first season as head coach.
Nonetheless, this is a border rivalry, LSU wants to take out its Alabama frustration on somebody and Arkansas is coming off an open date and has had two weeks to stew over a loss to Vanderbilt.
So here are 10 bold predictions for LSU-Arkansas:
1. The open date will do the Hogs good
They were beat up and had time to heal and come to grips with the fact that they can’t get to a bowl game. They will be the freshest they have been since September and it’ll show as they take the fight to a bunch of battered Tigers in the wake of the loss to Bama.
2. Jared Cornelius will score a touchdown
One player who benefited the most from the open date is senior WR Jared Cornelius, a native of Shreveport who will be fired up playing against his home-state school for the last time.
He missed the Vanderbilt game because of an ankle injury but should be OK for this one. It’s Senior Night and he’ll score a touchdown in his final home game.
3. Hogs freshmen will get a chance
It won’t just be Senior Night, it’ll be freshmen night – to a lesser degree.
The Hogs aren’t going bowling so they’ll miss out on 15 bowl practices that accelerate the development of young players. That would be especially helpful to a coach in the first season of a big rebuilding job.
So Morris will improvise and start getting some freshmen into games to accelerate their development without playing them enough to forfeit any potential red-shirts.
The youngsters will provide some enthusiasm, but they’ll also make some blunders – a necessary trade-off to get them some seasoning.
4. The atmosphere will rock
Arkansas hasn’t had the greatest home-field advantage of late, and this won’t remind anyone of Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, but it’ll be a fun night nonetheless.
The Hogs have been waiting years to get a crack at LSU at home at night. It’ll be cold and the crowd will be pumped.
5. Arkansas will sack Joe Burrow 3 times
The Hogs haven’t been doing a whole lot of things well, but they are tied for third in the SEC with 23 sacks.
The Tigers’ offensive line couldn’t keep Alabama off Burrow last week. No, the Arkansas pass rush isn’t like Alabama’s but it’s good enough to drop Burrow a few times.
6. Nick Brossette will get 100
Burrow will take some lumps, but the LSU line will have a lot more success blocking for Brossette, who will break loose for his first 100-yard performance in eight games.
7. LSU will make multiple interceptions
The Tigers lead the SEC in interception with 15 and even got one off Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, who hadn’t thrown one all year.
They should be able to get at least two off the Hogs, who have thrown the most interceptions in the SEC (15), nearly twice as many as the second most.
8. Devin White will have a dozen tackles
White normally gets close to double-digit tackles, but in this game he’ll go for a dozen, maybe even a baker’s dozen.
He’s still seething over missing the fist half of the Alabama game because of that targeting call against Mississippi State and he’ll take it out on the Hogs.
Nothing White does in this game will make up for last week, but he’ll be back in form and then some.
9. Cole Tracy will meet his match
Tracy has probably been the most talked-about kicker in the SEC this season and he’ll bounce back from his first miss from inside of 50 yards last week by making all his kicks.
But his counterpart with Arkansas, Connor Limpert, will match him kick for kick.
10. The Boot will stay put
Arkansas will play loose and hard and the crowd will be into it. LSU will sputter from time to time.
But the Tigers will do as they have done without fail under Ed Orgeron – follow a loss (even a disheartening one to Alabama) with a victory and the boot-shaped trophy that is the prize in this annual matchup will stay in Baton Rouge.