Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: The 4-5 LSU Tigers are in a must win situation over the final three weeks if they hope to avoid a second straight non-winning season. All three remaining games will be at home in Tiger Stadium and if they can continue to play with the same intensity as they did in Tuscaloosa, they have a fighting chance.
Finishing with a 7-5 record with a birth to a Bowl game would no doubt help the program tremendously, not only with recruiting but in creating some positive momentum going into the off-season for the team and their new head coach.
The first of these three hurdles will be the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs (6-3 overall, 2-3 in SEC play) looked as good as anyone in the country to start the season, impressively winning their first four games, including a 40-21 win over Texas and a 20-10 win over Texas A&M. Then their wheels fell off over the next three weeks, losing three in a row before bouncing back with two consecutive victories over UAPB and Mississippi State. They have at LSU, at Alabama, then host Missouri to finish the regular season. I'm hoping somehow this Arkansas club will look past our 4-5 Tigers ahead to their huge matchup with the Crimson Tide next week.
The Tigers have won the last five contest against Arkansas including last season's 27-24 victory in Fayetteville. LSU is catching the Hogs at a good time, with Arkansas coming off a pretty lack-luster performance against Mississippi State last week. The Razorback escaped with a 31-28 win, thanks to the Bulldogs missing all three of their field goal attempts.
Ed Orgeron plans on giving Garrett Nussmeier playing time on Saturday against the Hogs after Max Johnson has been plagued with inconsistent play over the last two contest. Both quarterbacks have competed hard in practice this week. “There’s definitely a competition. … Both of them did well,” Orgeron said. “It’s going to come down to we’re going to put them in the game, and we’re going to see which one plays better in the game.”
I'm kind of against playing Nussmeier unless absolutely necessary due to injury to Johnson. Why loose his redshirt and waste a season of eligibility just for "Playing Time".....
LSU's success this weekend will hinge on the performance of the offensive line unit, who will be without both starting guards. Ed Ingram suffered a head injury in practice this week that will keep him from playing Saturday, while Chase Hines will miss the rest of the season. Orgeron didn't say why. The 'next man up' philosophy will be put to the test as whoever Orgeron decides to go with as replacements will need to perform at a high level. LSU must continue to run the football well to have any chance of defeating the Hogs.
LSU still has a lot to play for. I look for the Tigers to feed off of the crowd in Death Valley and play an inspiring football game. I think the patchwork O-line will play well, giving the backs room to run and both quarterbacks enough time to throw.
The LSU defense must shut down the Razorbacks running game which ranks 4th in the nation this year, then continue to blitz often, pressuring KJ Jefferson all night.
The Tigers win this one to inch closer to a Bowl game invite.
PREDICTION: LSU 38, Arkansas 27