FAYETTEVILLE — Comparing records and rankings it would take a cold night in hell for the Arkansas Razorbacks to beat the LSU Tigers tonight.
That could be Arkansas’ best hope.
Because for the Tigers hailing from typically hot, humid Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it might seem like a cold night in hell with tonight’s 32-degree Fayetteville freezing forecast by the finish of the 6:30 p.m. SEC West game televised by the SEC Network at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
That and the then nationally No. 3 Tigers coming off a 29-0 losing hangover last Saturday at Baton Rouge in their big showdown with No. 1 Alabama plus Arkansas emotions on Senior Night for the Razorbacks’ 2018 Fayetteville farewell seem about all the plusses that Arkansas can muster.
Otherwise, it appears nearly hopelessly uphill for the Razorbacks, 2-7, 0-5 in the SEC versus the College Football Playoff seventh-ranked Tigers, 7-2, 4-2.
Arkansas’ lone victories are over lower division Eastern Illinois and over 2-7 Tulsa of the non-power five American Athletic Conference.
Among LSU’s conquests, coach Ed Orgeron’s Tigers in the SEC have beaten College Football Playoff ranked Georgia, fifth, Mississippi State, 15th, and Auburn, 24th, and offensively talented Ole Miss.
Southeastern Louisiana is the lone nonconference cupcake among LSU nonconference victories over the then nationally No. 8 Miami Hurricanes in September and traditionally tough Louisiana Tech.
Other than Alabama, LSU seems the SEC school that NFL scouts visit most and linger the longest evaluating prospects. Especially on defense.
LSU linebackers Devin White and Michael Divinity, defensive end Rashard Lawrence, safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Greedy Williams among other Tigers seem someday NFL bound.
“When you look at their back end, their secondary is as good as it gets,” Arkansas first-year coach Chad Morris said. “These are all NFL guys that are going to play at a very high level on Sundays. They lead the league in (forcing) turnovers and interceptions. They’re second in the country in interceptions. And when you watch them, you can see why. They’ve got the size, they’ve got the speed, they break on the ball, experienced. And very physical.
“Their secondary is as good as we’ve seen. Rashard Lawerence is as disruptive a D-lineman as we’ve seen. Michael Divinity, their Jack ‘backer, is very active. Then Devin White is one of the top linebackers in the country.”
Until the Alabama game, LSU’s offense had shown a real spark behind quarterback Joe Burrow who transferred from Ohio State.
In LSU’s 36-16 Baton Rouge march through Georgia, Burrow completed 15 of 30 for 200, including six for 108 yards to receiver John Jefferson, and netted 66 yards rushing with two touchdowns on 13 carries, while running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire netted 146 on 16 carries and Nick Brosette netted 64 yards on 16 totes.
Even Alabama netted but one LSU turnover.
“Offensively, they do a really good job of not turning the ball over,” Morris said. “They only have eight turnovers all year long. So that’s keeping you in a lot of games right there.”
But LSU does have a checkered bad weather history, like during 2000 in a 14-3 loss to a .500 Arkansas team in the pouring rain in Little Rock, or Arkansas’ 17-0 victory over the Tigers under frigid conditions like what’s predicted tonight.
Native Louisianan Orgeron knows the Louisiana aversion to the cold.
“It’s probably going to be cold,” Orgeron said. “In our guys’ minds, we have to block that out. We have to get back on track.”
The elements, barring lightning moving the Razorbacks inside the Walker Pavilion, are part of most Arkansas practices.
“We practice out in it,” Morris said. “Whether it is 35 degrees, three degrees or minus-three degrees it really has no bearing on the way we play. It's a mindset for us.”
The Hogs have had a bye week to get over the disappointment of a 45-31 SEC loss on Oct. 27 in Fayetteville to Vanderbilt while the disappointment of losing badly to Alabama after the nationally biggest pregame acclaim for this season seems a LSU concern.
“We need to be careful about having a (Alabama) hangover and respecting Arkansas, Orgeron said. “They put 31 points on Alabama (in a 65-31 loss) and we didn’t put any. Obviously we have to respect their football team. They’re going to play their best shot and it’s going to be a hostile crowd.”
And homeboy hostile on the field, too. At least six Razorbacks likely to play against Louisiana State University hail from Louisiana.
“They have talked about it with that being their home state it's a big deal for them,” Morris said. “Every game is a big deal, but the opportunity to play a team from your home state, these guys take incredible pride in that.”