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Fearless prediction: No. 3 Arkansas at No. 1 LSU

TYRANN MATHIEU Cornerback, LSU, sophomore Last game: 4

TYRANN MATHIEU
Cornerback, LSU, sophomore
Last game: 4 tackles
Stats: 71 tackles, 2 INT, 2.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 punt returns for TD
Record: 13-0
Comment: In the SEC championship game against Georgia, Mathieu returned a punt for a touchdown, forced a fumble that led to another score and had a dazzling punt return that helped LSU get in scoring position to cement the win.
Next game: Jan. 9 vs. No. 2 Alabama in BCS Championship
(Credit: Getty)

Friday

No. 3 Arkansas at No. 1 LSU (-13), 2:30 p.m.
Henry’s pick: This is the big one for Arkansas. A win could get the Razorbacks into the SEC title game and BCS national championship game. A loss would knock them completely out of the BCS. The Razorbacks are going to need a big game out of their running back duo of Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo Jr. That rushing attack is the only way to get quarterback Tyler Wilson the looks he will need to attack the LSU defense. Speaking of the Tigers, between running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, quarterback Jarrett Lee and former quarterback turned slash Jordan Jefferson, LSU has far too many weapons for Arkansas to deal with. Arkansas should be able to poke a hole in the LSU defense, but not enough to pull off the upset. LSU 33, Arkansas 17
Rose’s pick: Top-ranked LSU has met every challenge this season en route to an 11-0 record and a shot at the BCS national title. The Tigers beat Oregon at a neutral site to start the season, then got a win at West Virginia, and went to Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime. Now it’s a big game at home to finish the regular season against Arkansas. This is a game that always seems to produce some wild moments. The Razorbacks’ only loss this season came in a blowout at Alabama. LSU’s defense will be tested this week. Arkansas is averaging 39 points per game (13th nationally), 463 yards of total offense per game (21st nationally) and quarterback Tyler Wilson is averaging 292 passing yards per game (11th nationally). LSU, however, is fifth nationally in pass defense (156 yards per game), second in total defense (248 yards per game) and second in scoring defense (10 points per game). Plus, the Tigers have 15 interceptions this season, tied for 12th nationally. The key for LSU: make life miserable for Wilson, which means applying pressure. That’s something LSU’s talented front can do. Jordan Jefferson is starting to see more time at quarterback and has been productive. The running back combination of Spencer Ware and Michael Ford has been very effective. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith threw for 463 yards against LSU earlier this season. Wilson is capable of putting up big numbers on Friday. But LSU has a lot riding on this game. The Tigers would still have to win the SEC title game, but the bigger prize is in New Orleans with the BCS national title game. LSU’s offense will continue to roll with Jefferson leading the way and the defense will come up big late. It’s going to be close for a while, but the Tigers will break away late and move on. LSU 31, Arkansas 16

Other key Friday games:

No. 8 Houston at Tulsa (+3), 12 p.m.
Henry’s pick: Houston 37, Tulsa 20
Rose’s pick: Houston 45, Tulsa 38

Iowa at No. 21 Nebraska (-9.5), 12 p.m.
Henry’s pick: Nebraska 35, Iowa 21
Rose’s pick: Nebraska 27, Iowa 13

Pittsburgh at West Virginia (-7), 7 p.m.
Henry’s pick: West Virginia 24, Pittsburgh 23
Rose’s pick: West Virginia 27, Pittsburgh 24
 

Tags: LSU , Arkansas , SEC , BCS national title game , Tyler Wilson , Dennis Johnson , Ronnie Wingo Jr. , Jordan Jefferson , Jarrett Lee , Spencer Ware , Michael Ford , Houston , Tulsa , Nebraska , Iowa , Pittsburgh , West Virginia

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