BATON ROUGE, La. — As huge and heavy as the trophy known as “The Boot” might be, Louisiana State University and Arkansas both have much bigger things to play for when their annual Thanksgiving Week rivalry is renewed today.
This is arguably the biggest game to be played in Tiger Stadium in more than half a century.
“This is a game that we really look forward to,” LSU coach Les Miles said, indicating in his own way that the contest between No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Arkansas could be even more important than the so-called “Game of the Century” that the Tigers won in Alabama earlier this month.
Death Valley hasn’t played host to a matchup of top-three teams since the famed Halloween night game between No. 1 LSU and third-ranked Mississippi back in 1959, when Billy Cannon’s 89-yard punt return lifted the Tigers to a 7-3 victory.
This time, LSU (11-0, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) is looking to go 12-0 for the first time, and both teams are in the running for a bid to the BCS national title game in New Orleans on Jan. 9.
Arkansas’ only loss came at No. 2 Alabama in September, and the Hogs (10-1, 6-1) have steadily climbed the rankings ever since while winning seven consecutive games.
If the Tigers win, they’ll wrap up the SEC West and look forward to facing Georgia in the conference championship on Dec. 3 in Atlanta, where a 13th victory would virtually assure LSU a chance to play for at its third title in nine seasons.
An Arkansas victory would leave as many as six one-loss teams arguing that they belong in the national title discussion and create a three-way tie atop the SEC West with 7-1 league records. That is, if the heavily favored Crimson Tide beat Auburn in Saturday’s Iron Bowl.
In SEC divisional races, the next tiebreaker is highest BCS ranking. Theoretically, the computers still might keep LSU on top because of its win over Oregon and Alabama.