1. Bundle up
At kickoff Saturday, the temperature is expected to be around 30 degrees, and snow could be on the ground at Razorback Stadium. LSU hasn’t played in such weather in more than two decades. The team is bringing more than a dozen sideline heaters, and players will wear extra apparel to keep warm. Les Miles said his team is excited about the “uniqueness” of playing in that kind of weather, and he called Wednesday’s practice in chilly temperatures in Baton Rouge one of the most fun of the season.
2. Run vs. run
This game can’t set up any better for those old-school football fans who love low-scoring, ground-and-pound duels. Two old-fashioned Big Ten coaches meet in a game involving frigid temperatures and with two teams that lean heavily on running the football. This is, totally, your grandpa’s football. It’ll take the game back years. Miles admitted earlier this week that there could be 50 rushing attempts from both teams. Fifty. The squads combine to run for 469 yards a game.
3. The QB
So both Arkansas and LSU can run the ball well; we’ve established that. It’ll be cold, too. Each of the defenses don’t give up too many yards or points, either. That leaves the game to be decided by the pair of quarterbacks, a scary thought for both fan bases probably. Anthony Jennings throws for just 126 yards a game, and Brandon Allen passes for 192 an outing. They’re game managers, but the one who makes the biggest mistake or biggest play Saturday will determine this one.
4. A case of the drops
LSU dropped five passes in the loss to Alabama. Three of them came at critical junctures in the fourth quarter or overtime. Catching the football will be made much tougher in the bitter cold. Still, LSU’s receivers will be needed in key situations, especially in a game like this. Just like the match between Bama and the Tigers, these two teams will physically pound each other, get to a third-and-4 or -5(a lot) and need a catch from a wideout. Will Trey Quinn, Malachi Dupre and Melvin Jones make up for the drops last week?
I can’t imagine a more difficult turnaround than this for a team: Lose in dramatic fashion at home against a top-five rival in a physically exhausting game and then travel to a lengthy road game to play in 30 degree temperatures — and potentially snow — against a team that hasn’t won an SEC game in two years but has been playing well.
ARKANSAS 17, LSU 14
Arkansas ranks ninth in the SEC against the pass; the problem is LSU ranks 13th in passing yards. That means this one is going to be won on the ground, especially when you factor in the expected cold temperatures. Arkansas’ defense gave up 302 rushing yards to Auburn and 207 to Georgia. Only the strong survive, so LSU wins if they can pound out 225.
LSU 27, ARKANSAS 17
The Tigers are coming off a gut-wrenching loss to Alabama and are going on the road to play a determined and motivated opponent in what could be some of the worst weather conditions in LSU football history. Nothing logically says the Tigers should win, so that’s why I’m picking them. Illogic and The Hat go together like bacon and eggs.
LSU 23, ARKANSAS 19