Image Courtesy: The Clarion-Ledger
LSU (TBD, TBD)
Neither offense was very successful in last season’s installment for Battle for the Golden Boot. New LSU head coach Brian Kelley has four QBs to choose from in senior Myles Brennan, tbd Jayden Daniels, tbd, and tbd. Many expect Brennan to start as this is his sixth year in the program. Receiver Kayshon Boutte may be the best player for the tigers as he was given the heralded number seven jersey number, in honor of the team’s top player from the state of Louisiana. Boutte and fellow receiver Jack Bech are the only returning starters on the offensive side while defensively the tigers return two starters at defensive end in BJ Ojulari and safety Jay Ward. Another interesting tidbit entering the Battle for the Boot this year is the transfer portal. Veteran Arkansas defensive backs Joe Foucha and Greg Brooks transferred back to their home state of Louisiana to play for the tigers for a season while relatively young LSU defensive end Landon Jackson and defensive back Dwight McGlothern made their way from Baton Rouge to Fayetteville. In his SEC Media Days press conference, Tigers coach Brian Kelley commented that he does not love players transferring to schools within the same conference let alone division but since they’re both from Louisiana, he would take Foucha and Brooks in for a season. Come November, viewers of this game should expect Arkansas to rely on the ground game similarly to last season’s meeting with the tigers and pull out a close win.
Projected Score: Arkansas 31, LSU 24
Ole Miss (TBD, TBD)
The growing Arkansas-Ole Miss rivalry has had some crazy finishes over the last decade including last season’s one point win by the Rebels in Oxford last season. Ole Miss will have to replace QB Matt Corrall who’s now with the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. They added USC transfer Jaxson Dart and returning QB Luke Altmyer as potential options at signal-caller. Ole Miss lost both of their top assistants, including offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby (new Oklahoma offensive coordinator) and defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin (new Cleveland Browns assistant). It will be up to head coach Lane Kiffin to take control of the team and have another winning season in Oxford. Dart or Altmyer will be joined by TCU running back transfer Zach Evans in the backfield, a former five-star recruit. The Rebels will depend on returning receiver targets Jonathan Mingo and tight end Casey Kelley to produce with three returning starters along the offensive line. With a new defensive coordinator and more than half of the Rebels’ defense returning from last season, it is unreasonable to expect greatness from an Ole Miss defense that was better last season. That being said, expect a shootout in Fayetteville the Saturday before Thanksgiving as KJ Jefferson and Jaxson Dart battle it out. Projected Score: Arkansas 45, Ole Miss 42
at.Missouri (TBD, TBD)
Missouri defeated Arkansas five consecutive times from 2016-2020. That long streak ended in 2021 with a dominant effort from then Razorbacks receiver Treylon Burks with the help of his quarterback KJ Jefferson. Missouri is losing lots of offensive production including tremendous running back Tyler Badie as they only return four starters on that side of the ball. Incoming freshman receiver Luther Burden is expected to start immediately as a true freshman. He was a highly recruited five-star recruit as a homegrown talent in the state of Missouri that will need to make it easier on new starting QB Brady Cook, who replaces experienced QB Connor Bazelak, who transferred to Indiana. Defensively, it is better for the tigers as they return seven of eleven defensive starters. For Arkansas to continue on an upward trajectory, they must win this game annually against an opponent like Missouri, who is not having as much success as they want, with their tough schedules annually. When Black Friday comes around, the game will be close for a half or three quarters because the hogs are on the road at Faurot Field but expect the Arkansas offense to be successful the entire day in Columbia, helping them pull out an end of season win. Projected Score: Arkansas 38, Missouri 21