LSU football visits Arkansas on Saturday in Fayetteville. Here are your three keys to a LSU victory.
By Matt Zemek
LSU was favored by more than 40 points against Arkansas last season. This year, the game is close to a toss-up, making Tigers-Razorbacks a remarkably rare game in the annals of college football history. Few matchups played in consecutive seasons have undergone that much of a Vegas betting line change from one year to the next. It’s all part of the massive waves of change which have swept through the SEC West, making Texas A&M a likely New Year’s Six bowl team all while LSU fights to merely have a winning record at the end of its SEC campaign.
LSU’s bid to forge a winning record can certainly use a win over the Hogs. Let’s see how the Tigers can achieve that goal.
1 – T.J. Finley
When Finley torched South Carolina’s defense to the tune of 52 points, it seemed that LSU had found an answer at quarterback with Myles Brennan out. However, we soon realized that Finley’s performance – as good as it genuinely was – flowed more from South Carolina’s complete collapse on defense than from anything else. Will Muschamp has been fired, and meanwhile, LSU followed the South Carolina explosion with a limp performance against Auburn in which Finley looked overwhelmed.
LSU has had multiple weeks off due to missing the Alabama game for COVID-19-related reasons. The Tigers have had a chance to re-evaluate what they do and how they do it. Finley has had a chance to do plenty of film study and get on the same page with his receivers. He likely holds the key to victory for LSU on Saturday.
2 – Fire in the belly
After the long layoff, will LSU come roaring out of the gate with passion and hunger, or will this team have no edge, no urgency, no desperation? LSU’s defense made a very average Auburn offense with a mediocre quarterback (Bo Nix) look very good. Arkansas – which would have beaten Auburn on the road earlier this year, had it not been for a bad call – is very much in Auburn’s league. Those two teams are comparable in terms of quality. Will this defense be able to perform a lot better versus Feleipe Franks than it did versus Auburn and Nix, or is this season going to slip away? This is a test of manhood and pride for the LSU defense. Tactics are important, but this game stands out not as an X-and-O challenge for the Bayou Bengals. This is a test of a team’s desire and resolve. Who is ready to compete with all-out intensity? Ed Orgeron needs to find a team filled with players who are going to scrap for every yard or tackle, as 2021 begins to come into view.
3 – Rhythm or raggedness?
The multi-week break could create a stale team or a freshly coordinated team in which everything is in sync. Creating seamlessness, not sluggishness, is the challenge for a coaching staff in a pandemic and its disruptions. We will see how well the LSU staff meets this test against Arkansas.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 11:00 AM CT (12:00 PM ET). You can watch this LSU football game on the SEC Network.