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Arkansas vs. LSU Pick with Analysis

11/25/11

It's finally official. The SEC West is stronger than the AFC West. Joking aside, the strength of America's best football conference has reached unprecedented levels in 2011. After upsets through the land last Saturday, the SEC now owns the top 3 spots in both polls and in the BCS rankings.

That will change on Friday night when #3 Arkansas travels to play #1 LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA. The rivalry is known as the Battle for the Golden Boot, but this year it will be known as the "Play In Game For the BCS Title". Arkansas has won 3 of the last 4 meetings, all of which were epic battles. Perhaps the most interesting recent bout was in 2007 when the unheralded Hogs won 50-48 against an LSU team that was ranked #1 in the nation.

The line for this game opened at 14 points at betonline, but quickly dropped to 12.5. LSU is undefeated and has taken out the likes of Alabama and Oregon. Their defense is crushing and doesn't make many mistakes. They rank 2nd in the nation in Points Against and are giving up an extremely stingy 10 points per game.

There is hope for the Hogs, despite that stat. LSU gave up 27 to Oregon and 21 to West Virginia. Arkansas can move the ball better than both of those teams. They have the best wide receivers in all of college football. The game could come down to their running game. Can they move the ball on the ground? If they do an upset for the ages could be in order. If not, LSU may do to them what Alabama did to them in week 4 play.

The yards per point numbers for Arkansas are very good, with an 11.8 on offense and 17 on defense. The ypp numbers for LSU are off the charts, 9.9 on offense and 24.8 on defense. The yards per point line for this game would be right on the posted line of 12 or 13. However, LSU has played a schedule approximately 6 points more difficult which you have to consider.

When we look at a game of this magnitude, we immediately look at the underdog. You don't get to 10-1 by accident. Arkansas is a very good football team. Not many people would be "shocked" if Arkansas won this game straight up, upsets happen every week. Here, you're getting a boatload of points to boot. When you back a dog like that, there are a number of favorable outcomes. A straight up win, a close game and a cover. A one sided game yet your team, the underdog, gets the back door cover.

When you back a -12 point favorite, there's only one outcome favorable to you. You need your team to go out and dominate every phase of the game and win convincingly. That's why you'll rarely see us backing double digit favorites. While this one won't be a key release, we're going to go ahead and do just that, recommend LSU here.

LSU hasn't shown any weaknesses all year. Unlike Auburns title run last year, where they won several games by a point or two, LSU has gone out and dominated. Alabama was the only team to come close and Arkansas is not as good as Alabama, as was proven earlier in the year. Arkansas has given up some big time points to teams nowhere near the ability of LSU while the LSU defense has been able to stop or slow down every offense they have faced.

Our score prediction model has a predicted final score of LSU 34-11 and we'll ride that prediction. LSU is the better team and it should show over the course of 60 minutes on Friday Afternoon. LSU -12

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