Wednesday, 23 November 2011 10:10
Prediction: LSU Over Arkansas, Next Georgia
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les-milesIt's one of the biggest college football games of the season, and Arkansas has won three of the past four over the Tigers in this hard-fought series which resumes on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.

A total of four overtime periods were required to decide their last two meetings in Baton Rouge. This meeting is a CBS (Ch. 4) nationally televised game between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country.

The point spread of 13 is way too much as LSU (11-0, 7-0 SEC) will have all it can handle in Arkansas (10-1, 6-1).

Coach Bobby Petrino'a Hogs ran the ball 47 times to earn a 31-23 victory over Les Miles. This season, without running back Knile Davis (knee), who had 30 of those carries, Petrino will go with his passing game, featuring quarterback Tyler Wilson and the best four wide-out combo in the country, that will go against the country's best defensive secondary.

LSU has already beaten a pair of top-five ranked teams away from Death Valley, and beating Arkansas would make for an impressive trifecta, a spot against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and a likely rematch with Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 9.

There is always talk about "More or Les" Miles' luck and going for it on fourth downs, and it was almost as if the Tigers had to apologize for edging the Tide 9-6 in overtime in the "SEC Game of the Century." There's always a preoccupation with the "Mad Hatter" and his whacky ways as well as his unconventional approach to winning games.

The Tigers have turned the football over only six times this season, by far the lowest total in the country. Ask Michael Ford if he missed playing time early this season after losing a fumble.

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The Porkers don't have an NFL defensive line (make that two lines) like the Tigers and their run defense could be in trouble against the Tigers' young running backs committee. Wilson likely will be playing from behind in the first half and forcing throws at the "Golden Badger." The Hogs had 16 giveaways this season.

One matchup to watch is LSU punter Brad Wing vs. Hogs return man Joe Adams. Wing was a big factor in the Tigers' win over Bama, and he'll be wise to punt away from Adams, who has brought back three punts for touchdowns and is one of the Hogs' keys to victory.

The Porkers have the most dynamic offense in the SEC and they rank No. 10 nationally in passing (316.9 yards per game) and No. 13 in scoring (39.2 points). LSU's defense will have to earn a win against this offense.

If the Tigers beat the Razorbacks, they clearly earn the right to be called the best team in the SEC West, which, this season. means the best team in Collegiate America. The Tigers would then have to play Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and probably Bama one more time to raise the crystal.

Prediction: Take Arkansas and the 13 points. Final: LSU 26-20.
(Last week's prediction was LSU 50, Ole Miss 6).

Note:: We've seen LSU-Alabama once and even though they might be deserving of  No. 1 and No. 2, I don't look forward to seeing that machup again. Maybe it's that I haven't forgotten when LSU played in rematch with Ole Miss after the  '59 season-- and got beat. 

Texas and Alabama continue to lead the way in recruiting for the Class of 2012, but Michigan, Miami and South Carolina are closing fast4. The's Top Ten rankings: 1) Texas 2) Alabama 3) Michigan 4) Florida State 5) Florida 6) Texas A&M 7) Miami 8)Clemson 9) LSU 10) South Carolina.

Other NCAA picks: Texas +7 1/2 over Texas A&M; Ohio State +7 1/2 over Michigan;  Georgia -6 over Georgia Tech; Wisconsin -15 over Penn State; Clemson +4 over South Carolina; Houston -3 over Tulsa; Stanford -6 over Notre Dame;  UCLA +14 over USC; Ole Miss +17 over Mississippi State; and Auburn +21 over Alabama. Last week: 9-3.

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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