It's GameDay: Football Chases Hogs for 'Boot,' BCS
Sr. Assoc. Athletic Director/SID
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - LSU will go after its 10th win of the season on Friday and in the process keep its hopes alive for a bid to a BCS bowl, and perhaps even a berth in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, when the seventh-ranked Tigers face Arkansas here in Razorback Stadium.
Kickoff for the Tigers and the Razorbacks is scheduled for 1:39 p.m. with CBS televising the game to a national audience. The game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network and in the GeauxZone on LSUsports.net with Jim Hawthorne, Doug Moreau, and Gordy Rush on the call.
A win by the Tigers keeps LSU in the mix for a bid to a BCS bowl. But more importantly, an LSU win coupled with an Auburn victory over Alabama and a Texas A&M victory over Missouri, will give the Tigers the bid to represent the western division in the SEC Championship Game next week in Atlanta.
LSU GameDay Info
Ticket Will Call for LSU fans opens at noon CT near Gate 12 at Reynolds Stadium.
LSU will wear white jerseys and will occupy the east sideline (opposite press box).
Kickoff: 1:39 p.m. CST
Driving Directions (Baton Rouge to Fayetteville, Ark. -- 539 mi.; 9h, 41m)
LSU enters the game with a 9-2 overall mark and a 5-2 league record after last week's 41-35 win over Ole Miss. The Tigers are a win away from reaching 10 victories for the sixth time in eight years under Les Miles. A win will also have Miles become just the sixth coach in SEC history to win 10 or more games at the same school six times or more, joining Bear Bryant (13 at Alabama), Steve Spurrier (9 at Florida), Phil Fulmer (9 at Tennessee), Mark Richt (8 at Georgia) and Vince Dooley (7 at Georgia).
LSU is ranked No. 7 in the BCS and in the USA Today Coaches poll and No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25.
Arkansas, which opened the year ranked in the top 10, has dropped three of its last four games and stands at 4-7 overall and 2-5 in league play.
The game also serves as the annual "Battle for the Boot" with the winning team taking possession of the 175-pound trophy shaped likes the states of Louisiana and Arkansas. LSU is currently in possession of "The Boot" after last year's 41-17 win in Tiger Stadium.
Friday's game marks just the second game between LSU and Arkansas in Fayetteville as the teams have played every other year in Little Rock since 1994. The only other meeting between the Tigers and the Hogs in Fayetteville came in 1992 in what was Arkansas' first year in the SEC. The Hogs won that game in 1992, 30-6.
"Although it was a shortened week, we had a good week of practice," Les Miles said. "We are excited about going to Fayetteville for the first time since 1992 with an opportunity to win our 10th game and enhance our bowl resume. Arkansas has a tremendous team. All you have to do is turn on their game film and see that they have some outstanding players on both sides of the ball.
"We are going to have to play well in all three phases, play a 60-minute game and take care of the football in order to have success."
The Tigers will look to continue its strong offensive play as of late as the Tigers have opened up the passing game with junior Zach Mettenberger throwing for 250 yards or more in three straight SEC games, including 282 yards last week against Ole Miss. Mettenberger became the first LSU quarterback since Tommy Hodson in 1989 to throw for 250 yards or more in three straight conference games.
In 11 games, Mettenberger has climbed all the way to No. 8 in school history in passing yards with 2,272. He ranks just out of the LSU top 10 in single-season school history in attempts (300) and completions (177). Last week, Mettenberger threw his first interception in 130 attempts, a streak that stretched back to the South Carolina game on Oct. 13. The 130 attempts without an interception ranks as the third-longest streak in school history, trailing only Alan Risher (137) and Jarrett Lee (131).
The offense has been aided by an offensive line that will be starting the same group for the sixth straight game. The line features a pair of seniors in left tackle Josh Dworaczyk and center P.J. Lonergan, sophomore left guard La'el Collins and a pair of freshmen in right guard Trai Turner and right tackle Vadal Alexander.
"We have played well up front," Miles said. "We have settled on a lineup over the past four or five games and that group is playing well. They are doing a good job of protecting Zach and they have done a nice job when we run the football."
The Tigers run game has been sparked by the play of true freshman Jeremy Hill, who leads the team with 554 yards and nine touchdowns. He's joined in what is a loaded backfield by Kenny Hilliard (448 yards, 6 TDs), Michael Ford (395 yards, 3 TDs), and Spencer Ware (336 yards, 1 TD).
Defensively, the Tigers still rank among the best in the nation despite giving up season-highs for points (35), passing yards (316) and total yards (463) last week against Ole Miss. LSU is allowing just 17.3 points and 281.9 total yards (179.0 passing, 101.7 rushing) per game.
Kevin Minter, one of five finalists for the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker, leads the Tigers with 101 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss. Defensive end Sam Montgomery leads the Tigers and ranks among the leaders in sacks with 7.0. He also has 12.0 tackles for loss and 31 tackles.
As a unit, the Tiger defense has forced an SEC-best 29 turnovers, including a league-high 17 interceptions.
The Tiger secondary will be tested again for the second straight week as Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, a projected first round NFL draft pick, leads the SEC with 302.8 passing yards per game. The Razorbacks also have the top receiver in the league in Cobi Hamilton, who has 80 catches for 1,237 yards and five touchdowns.
When the Hogs go to the run, Dennis Johnson ranks among the SEC leaders with 727 yards and eight touchdowns.
"They have a very good offensive scheme," Miles said. "Our defense will be tested again this week. We are going to have to pressure the quarterback and do a good job defending them against both the pass and the run because they do a nice job of mixing it up."