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Preview: Tigers Travel to Arkansas for Battle for the Boot

by Harrison Valentine | Digital Media Graduate Assistant
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Preview: Tigers Travel to Arkansas for Battle for the Boot

LSU (7-2) hits the road to face Arkansas (5-4) in the annual Battle for the Boot on Saturday morning in Fayetteville.

Kickoff is set for 11:07 a.m. CT on ESPN and the LSU Sports Radio Network.

On the heels of a historic overtime win over Alabama in Death Valley, the Tigers, in full control of their own destiny in the SEC West, now turn the focus to the Hogs in what is expected to be a sunny, but brisk morning at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

“Really good win,” said head coach Brian Kelly on Monday. “Our guys got 24 hours to enjoy it and now our focus is on another SEC West opponent on the road. It’s the Golden Boot, another rivalry trophy.” 

Quarterback Jayden Daniels is coming off another impressive outing against Alabama, going 22-of-32 with 182 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Daniels also led the offense in rushing with 95 yards and one score, with the biggest coming in overtime to set up the game-winning two-point conversion.

It was also a productive night for the receivers as Kayshon Boutte recorded seven receptions for 51 yards, Malik Nabers tallied 49 yards on six catches and Mason Taylor with three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown, along with the two-point catch that will be remembered forever, falling just inside the pylon for the victory.

Josh Williams has personified consistency, always doing the little things right, rushing for 54 yards and a touchdown, with some critical blocks and first downs in crunch time. That doesn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff, and certainly doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates, who call him Mr. Reliable.

“No matter what we need from Josh – blocking, running, catching, he gets it done,” said Jaray Jenkins. “He’s one of the hardest workers we’ve got.”

Defensively, the Tigers flashed. Freshman linebacker Harold Perkins earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording eight tackles, seven pressures, three hurries, one sack and a tackle for loss against the Tide. Cornerback Jarrick Bernard-Converse was targeted seven times, allowing just two receptions, with one interception and two pass breakups. BJ Ojulari led the unit in tackles with 11.

An emotional win in Tiger Stadium hasn’t effected preparation, Kelly says, and the team is focused on the next challenge, which is going on the road in the SEC to play Arkansas in a rivalry game that has produced plenty of classics.

“Our preparation has been good, our attention to detail, all the things necessary to go on the road in the SEC and play a really good football team,” Kelly said on Thursday. “Our guys understand what’s at stake, but they stayed focused on the right things: the things they can control.”

“Our goal is to graduate champions,” Kelly added. “They want to be champions. This week will be another step toward being a champion. Let’s do the things that we need to do. It starts with today. It’s out there. They know what they’re going for.”

Arkansas is led by quarterback K.J. Jefferson, who has thrown for 1,981 yards through the air with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Hogs’ rushing attack is led by Raheim Sanders, who has accounted for 1,101 yards on the ground with seven touchdowns. Matt Landers leads the receivers with 594 yards receiving, averaging 17.0 yards per touch, with three touchdowns.

No rah-rah speeches need to be given, Kelly says, to understand what’s at stake.

It’s the Battle for the Boot, and the Tigers are looking to bring the trophy back to its rightful home in Baton Rouge.

“They know that Arkansas is an SEC opponent that beat them last year,” Kelly said. “This is about a consistency. If they want to be a consistent program, they will think the right about this game.”