LSU is ranked No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings and coming of impressive back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents Ole Miss and Alabama.
The Tigers (7-2) sit atop the SEC West standings at 5-1. They can clinch a date in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Atlanta with a win at Arkansas (5-4, 2-3 SEC) at noon Saturday on ESPN. That is, if No. 9 Alabama (7-2, 4-2) wins at No. 11 Ole Miss (8-1, 4-1) later Saturday (3:30 p.m., CBS).
Yet, Arkansas, which just lost 21-19 to Liberty, is only a 3.5-point underdog to an LSU team that just beat former No. 6 Alabama, 32-31, in overtime at Tiger Stadium.
LSU Tigers Facing A Trap At Arkansas?
Why? Trap game and history.
LSU is coming off a hugely emotional win over its daddy, a team it had not beat in Baton Rouge since 2010 and has only defeated twice since the national championship game in the 2011 season. The Tigers usually play Arkansas the week after Alabama, while LSU is collectively still taking a breath and either still healing emotionally and physically after a loss, or hyperventilating after a huge win.
LSU has won seven of the last 10 against the Razorbacks, but it is just 3-6-1 over that span against the spread in games versus Arkansas.
Maybe that hypeventilation part is why word has it that Kelly passed a “no Bama talk” rule beginning Monday, going into Arkansas week. And perhaps he knows a little LSU history. The Tigers have had a tendency to lose the week following an emotionally draining win:
LSU Has Haunted History After Big Wins
-In 1959, No. 1 LSU beat No. 3 Ole Miss, 7-3, in a Game of the Century at Tiger Stadium on Billy Cannon’s legendary, 89-yard punt return on Halloween night in the fourth quarter that won him the Heisman Trophy. The next week, the Tigers lost 14-13 at No. 13 Tennessee.
-In 1997, LSU beat No. 1 Florida, 28-21, in one of the greatest games in Tiger Stadium history, and just a week later lost at home to unranked Ole Miss, 36-21.
-In 2002, LSU and coach Nick Saban beat Kentucky, 33-30, on the Blue Grass Miracle catch by Devery Henderson on the last play of the game. A week later, the Tigers lost at home to Alabama, 31-0, in the last shutout of Saban’s college coaching career
-In 2007, No. 1 LSU beat No. 9 Florida, 28-24, only to lose the following week, 43-37, in triple overtime at No. 17 Kentucky.
-In 2022, No. 10 LSU beat No. 6 Alabama, 32-31, in overtime in what is being called one of the greatest games in Tiger Stadium history. It was also the most-watched college football regular season game on ESPN since 2016. The game featured eight lead changes – all in the second half – as it drew an average of 7.6 million viewers, peaking at 10.4 million, accoring to ESPN. … On Nov. 12, 2022, LSU went to Arkansas, and?
“I guess that’s what they call it,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said when asked if he is in the “classic trap game” at Arkansas. “I’ve never bought into that because I think if it’s a trap game, you have not done a very good job with your football team.”
Brian Kelly Should Be Coach Of Year Candidate
Up until now, Kelly has done probably the best job in college football with his team – based on what he inherited. LSU was 5-5 in 2020 and 6-7 in 2021, including an at times embarrassing, 42-20 loss to Kansas State in the Texas Bowl last Jan. 4. Amid mass exits from a team that saw its coach, Ed Orgeron, fired at mid-season, the Tigers dressed out just 39 scholarship players.
Kelly steadfastly replenished the roster through the transfer portal and his recruiting class, but he remains well under the 85 limit. After a season-opening, 24-23 loss to Florida State in New Orleans and a 40-13 blowout at the hands of Tennessee, LSU has played as well as anyone in the nation. The Tigers won 45-35 at Florida, blew out Ole Miss and then beat Alabama.
Trap or not, Kelly knows what he is walking into in Fayetteville.
“Certainly with the success that we’ve had, we’ve entered into a new part of how we think,” he said. “And our team needs to now handle success.”
Arkansas’ Running Game Could Hurt LSU
And Arkansas could be no pushover, if it continues to be a dominant running team. The Razorbacks are second in the SEC and 10th nationally with 233 rushing yards a game. Tailback Raheim Sanders leads the SEC and is eighth in the nation with 1,001 yards on 173 carries. LSU is just seventh in the SEC and 62nd in the nation against the run, having allowed 141 a game.
Plus, the weather will be conducive to a smashmouth run game for Arkansas. Temperatures are expected to stay in the 30s until midway through the game when they could reach 40.
Weather will not be the only thing that feels different for LSU.
“You’re not sneaking up on anybody now,” Kelly told his team after the Alabama win. “You’re the hunted.”
Meanwhile, the SEC East could also be decided Saturday should No. 1 Georgia (9-0, 6-0) beat Mississippi State (6-3, 3-3) in a 7 p.m. game on ESPN.
Key national games will pit No. 4 TCU (9-0) at No. 18 Texas (6-3) at 7:30 p.m. on ABC, No. 25 Washington (7-2) at No. 6 Oregon (8-1) at 7 p.m. on FOX and No. 22 Central Florida (7-2) at No. 17 Tulane (8-1) at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.