As Arkansans lament each November, LSU was replaced by Missouri as Arkansas’ season-ending “rivalry” game in 2012 when the latter Tigers and Texas A&M joined the SEC from the Big 12. On paper, geographically, it makes sense, I suppose, Fayetteville and Columbia West being essentially neighboring outliers in the league footprint.
But for me, anyway, and I suspect a large number of Hog fans, Missouri (for football, anyway) is pretty milquetoast — not a lot of passion generated. Granted, losing five straight to the SEC’s No. 3 Tigers is unacceptable. But it feels more like a roll-your-eyes in mild frustration moment compared to the sting of the FORMER losing streak to the Aggies.
Whatever one might say about the old Thanksgiving weekend rivalry with LSU — to many, “rivalry” — the game almost always is guaranteed to entertain. Multiple OT games, a pair of miracles on Markham…
Since the Hogs joined the SEC 30 years ago, more often than not, when we play LSU, you can throw out the records. And should do so this year. The Tigers are 4-5 and playing out a weird season under lame duck coach Ed Orgeron, but they were throwing for the end zone at the end of a 20-14 loss to Alabama last week. Even with Coach O leaving, the Tigers are still playing hard. Or perhaps they made Bama their bowl game, which incidentally, remains a possibility for LSU with a win this weekend almost necessary to do so.
How motivated the Tigers are, and how thoroughly the Hogs have shaken off the afterglow of the dramatic win over Mississippi State, will be interesting to see. Will this be a vintage Saturday night crowd at Death Valley. Doubtful, but it could still have an impact. Georgia’s raucous early risers the first weekend of October impacted the Hogs greatly but also took it by surprise, I think.
That shouldn’t be the case on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge. We’ll see how motivated Tiger Stadium is on Saturday night to make an impact. It’ll be important for the Hogs to get out front early to help negate any potential motivation.
The Tigers themselves, program leadership issues aside, remain banged up. Catching them after they had to bang with Bama is a rare schedule break, if you could call it that, for the Hogs. LSU will be without multiple starters on the OL as well as its two best overall players in CB Derek Stingley and WR Kayshon Boutte.
The Tigers are physical, but what should remain a somewhat rested bunch of Hogs need to win the line of scrimmage on both sides Saturday night. Defensive coordinator Daronte Jones threw the kitchen sink at Bama last week — I think I saw a couple of actual kitchen sinks blitzing — and the Tigers held the Tide to just six yards rushing after counting for the sacks.
The Tigers are averaging five yards a rush and the offense under QBs Max Johnson and freshman Garrett Nussmeier can hit big plays but have been inconsistent. Wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Dc Barry Odom finally bring the blitz.