This Saturday will mark the final regular season game for the Hogs, as they meet the LSU Tigers at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. I’ve seen reports that there are already RV’s in the parking lot.
This is always a big game, but this year there is much more to it than playing a hated rival.
This year there are implications. Whether it’s SEC west implications or BCS implications, they seem to be everywhere.
One thing is for sure, when the best offensive team in the SEC, meets the best defensive team in the SEC, something has to give. Looking at LSU’s performance last week against lowly Ole Miss, the Tigers gave up 36 points and 420 yards in the near upset.
As this season goes, it was very uncharacteristic of the Tigers who have shown a strong defense all season long.
Not to mention LSU’s offense seemed to click a bit, which has been a far cry from the norm this season. Jordan Jefferson seemed to find open receivers with ease, make accurate passes and actually run the offense. However, I don not see that being the case this Saturday when the Hogs line up across the ball.
Last week, the Hogs were also very uncharacteristic in their performance, the offense seemed to sputter, the defense had trouble the entire game, not what Hog Nation has become accustomed to this season at all. But the Hogs put on a display of resilience. A few years ago the Hogs would have lost that game, no doubt about it.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Head Hog Bobby Petrino will have this team fully focused on the LSU Tigers come Saturday. What is beyond amazing is that, even with an off night, Ryan Mallett surpassed the 300 yard mark and stud of late Knile Davis was only 13 yards shy of the 200 yard mark. For an off night I’d say that’s pretty handy work.
Although there has been many bright spots on this Arkansas Razorback team, whether it’s been the defense standing tall, the performances by Knile Davis, Tyler Wilson or Ryan Mallett, the offensive line has quietly emerged as one of the top O-lines in the SEC.
The Hogs up front will certainly play a huge part come Saturday. The Tigers front seven have earned their national praise honestly. But LSU has yet to face a team similar to Arkansas. With Auburn they faced a quarterback that ran, Ryan Mallett, although I’m sure he would like to be, is not a running threat. If LSU fails to get pressure it won’t be a total loss, a gentleman by the name Patrick Peterson will be lurking in the defensive backfield.
Fortunately, Arkansas has a great problem, in a very talented receiving corp. something LSU has yet to see in any team they have played. Usually a team will have one or two guys lined up out wide that can make you pay with broken coverage. Arkansas has a bevy of receivers that can score from anywhere on the field. Not to mention the best tight end in college football.
With the emergence of Knile Davis as nothing short of Arkansas’ feature back, Arkansas has achieved a balance not seen in the long storied history of the Razorbacks.
A quarterback that has passed for over 3,000 yards and a runningback with over 1,000 yards rushing is something special. Especially in the SEC where defenses usually hinder teams from such feats.
What the Battle for the Boot will come down to, is that Arkansas will have to put forth another effort similar to that displayed against South Carolina. This game will be nothing short of the biggest game the Hogs have played all year. The Alabama game, the Auburn game were both pre-season scrimmages compared to November 27th.
As they say, this one is for all the marbles…at least all the marbles left on the table for the Hogs.
One thing this particular game has taught us is, you can throw records, statistics, everything out the window. This game has always been about pride, about winning the bragging rights that goes along with hoisting the Boot over your head at the end of the game.
( At least since the Boot was created by David Bazzel )
This game will come down to which team wants it more in the fourth quarter. I’m sure that the term “win at all costs” will arise in both locker rooms. I have a feeling we will see an atmosphere in Little Rock that few will see anywhere in the nation.
If there was ever an embodiment of the term “leave it all on the field”, this game will certainly provide the closest that Hog fans have seen this season.
It’s the one game that will tear at your emotions, make your heart pound for 60 minutes, it can leave you with a feeling of pride or leave you with the feeling of heartbreak.
Win or lose one thing is for sure, Hog fans have one hell of a team, and should be proud of these kids. But one thing is for sure, I would love to see a convoy of broken hearted LSU fans heading down US-65 come Saturday night.
Follow James Moseley on Twitter: Twitter.com/@james_moseley