Fayetteville, AR (SportsNetwork.com) - The 20th-ranked LSU Tigers will attempt to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss on Saturday night, as they square off with the Arkansas Razorbacks in an SEC clash at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
It's always appointment viewing when LSU and Alabama face off, as was the case last week in Baton Rouge. The Tigers went ahead on a field goal with under a minute left only to allow the Crimson Tide to march down the field and force overtime with a field goal of their own in the waning seconds, and it ultimately fell in the extra session, 20-13.
"It was a tough one," Les Miles said. "I have a bad taste in my mouth from that game."
The Tigers are now 7-3 overall and effectively eliminated from the SEC Western Division race at 3-3.
Arkansas is just 4-5 this season and have yet to win in five SEC contests (to extend their league losing streak to 17 games dating back to 2012), but it has played much better than its record would suggest. The Razorbacks fought hard against No. 1 Mississippi State on the road on Nov. 1 before falling, 17-10, and they also suffered one-possession losses to Alabama (14-13) and Texas A&M (35-28).
"These guys never quit," Arkansas coach Brett Bielema said. "I think they have shown that all year long. It's not an option in our program."
The Tigers have a 37-20-2 advantage over the Razorbacks in the Battle for the Boot rivalry, which includes a 31-27 win in Baton Rouge last season.
Despite scoring a combined 23 points in the last two games against two of the best defenses in the nation, LSU still boasts impressive offensive numbers, amassing 30.8 ppg and 398.7 ypg.
Anthony Jennings was ineffective to say the least against Alabama, completing only 8-of-26 passes for 76 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The signal caller is completing less than 48 percent of his throws this season with 1,266 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
The rushing attack, which picks up 221.4 ypg, is led by freshman sensation Leonard Fournette, who's turned 152 carries into 736 yards and seven touchdowns. Terrence Magee (447 yards, three TDs) and Kenny Hilliard (431 yards, six TDs) are also actively involved.
Despite inconsistent quarterback play, Travin Dural has emerged as an outstanding big-play receiver with 30 receptions for 701 yards and seven scores. His yards-per-catch average (23.4) is best in the nation among players with at least 30 grabs.
Defensively, the Tigers have been outstanding, ranking fifth in the country in points allowed (16.3 ppg) and 13th in yards allowed (317.8 ypg) while forcing 18 turnovers (nine interceptions, nine fumble recoveries).
Kwon Alexander has a team high in tackles (67) despite missing a game. Danielle Hunter is a versatile defensive lineman with 61 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. Ronald Martin, Tre'Davious White and Rickey Jefferson all have two interceptions, and 17 players have at least 20 tackles for the deep unit.
The Arkansas offense had a hard time getting untracked against a stout Mississippi State defense on the road the last time out, but it didn't spoil a great season for the unit, which scores 35.9 ppg on 451.6 ypg.
The offense's success is thanks largely to one of the nation's best running back duos. Jonathan Williams (137 carries, 877 yards) and Alex Collins (134 carries, 840 yards) have split the backfield workload in half to remarkably similar results, even scoring 10 touchdowns apiece. Both rank in the top 40 nationally in rushing.
Brandon Allen attempts less than 28 passes per game but has been solid in what he's asked to do, completing 57.8 percent of his throws for 1,736 yards, 17 touchdowns (two rushing) and five interceptions.
A modest receiving corps is led by Keon Hatcher (32 receptions, 410 yards, three TDs) and Hunter Henry (26 receptions, 363 yards, two TDs).
The Razorbacks have held their own defensively as well, giving up 24.7 ppg and 364.8 ypg.
Martrell Spaight is one of the SEC's top tacklers with 87 stops. Trey Flowers (9.5 TFL) and Darius Philon (9.5 TFL) have generated a lot of pressure in the backfield, but the duo has combined for only 4.5 sacks.