FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas faces an uphill challenge on Saturday with No. 7 LSU coming into Fayetteville.
Arkansas (5-4, 2-3) is still one short of the required wins to become bowl eligible. Following the LSU game, they have Ole Miss at home and then travel to Missouri to close out the regular season. LSU (7-2, 5-1) controls its own destiny in the SEC West following wins over Ole Miss and Alabama in its last two games. In addition to Arkansas they have a non-conference game against UAB and then go to Texas A&M to finish the regular season.
Here’s five keys for Arkansas to pull off the upset and defeat LSU.
Quarterback Have Big Game
This is usually where I report how KJ Jefferson has to have a big game. I felt that was one of the biggest keys to beat BYU, Auburn and Liberty. It worked against BYU and Auburn, but Jefferson and the Hogs fell short against Liberty 21-19. Jefferson has an issue with his clavicle and its limited him in practice. As of Wednesday (our last media access), Sam Pittman hadn’t ruled out playing Malik Hornsby if Jefferson is still limited. Regardless of Jefferson or Hornsby, Arkansas needs a big game from them. A healthy Jefferson would give the Hogs a real shot here, but he isn’t close to 100-percent healthy apparently.
Don’t Let Jayden Daniels Post Heisman Numbers
Daniels, who transferred in from Arizona State, is to this LSU team what Joe Burrow was to the squad that won the national title. Daniels leads the Tigers in rushing and also is posting outstanding passing numbers with only one interception on the season. Arkansas’ defense has struggled this season though they seemingly have managed to improve some in recent games. Daniels is a dual-threat quarterback and if the Arkansas defense lets him dictate what he wants to do both passing and running it will be a long day in Razorback Stadium.
Don’t Dig Deep Hole
In its last three home games the Razorbacks have fallen behind big early on. Missouri State it was 17-0, Alabama 28-0 and Liberty 21-0. They do that against LSU and it will be over very early. The Hogs rallied back to beat Missouri State and pull within 28-23 of Alabama before the Tide regained control. Against Liberty, Arkansas was obviously a two-point conversion away from forcing overtime. Jefferson came up just short of the goal line. Pittman and the staff need to get this issue fixed. LSU, Ole Miss and Missouri are too good to try and dig out of a big deficit.
Eliminate Turnovers, Penalties
Arkansas can’t have self-inflicted issues in this game. Last week, the Hogs suffered two interceptions. Penalties have been an issue much of the season. Arkansas has cut back considerably on the pass interference penalties that haunted them earlier in this season. That trend needs to continue on Saturday. But Arkansas has just had too many penalties such as false starts, hands to the face and the such. The Hogs need to play a clean game on Saturday.
Get Off to Fast Start
If Arkansas can get off to a fast start on both sides of the ball there’s no guarantee LSU will embrace the extremely cold conditions in Fayetteville on Saturday. In 2014 as an offensive line coach for Bret Bielema, Pittman and the Hogs celebrated a 17-0 win over LSU for Arkansas’ first SEC win under the former head coach. Arkansas was 0-13 in the SEC at that point over a two-year span and LSU was ranked No. 20. LSU was very disinterested it seemed that day as it was very cold weather.
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. and televised on ESPN.