Can West Virginia and Arkansas Pull Off Top 5 Upsets?
The Mountaineers host LSU, while the Razorbacks travel to Alabama.
By: Patrick Snow | 9/21/11, 1:35 PM EDT
West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen and Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino are known for their high-octane offenses, but both coaches will face difficult tests on Saturday. Alabama and LSU have arguably the best two defenses in the nation, and no one would be surprised if both teams were undefeated when the Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa on November 5 in what could be the college football game of the year. However, this weekend should be challenging for both Nick Saban and Les Miles. Alabama had a major scare last year against the Hogs, while the atmosphere in Morgantown and Holgorsen’s offense could be a lethal combination for LSU.
Better shot at an upset: West Virginia or Arkansas?
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
I'll go with West Virginia, mainly because the Mountaineers are at home. I really like Arkansas, even without Knile Davis, but it's too tall of an order to think that the Razorbacks can win in Tuscaloosa. West Virginia, on the other hand, will have the advantage of the home crowd, which should be at a fever pitch after prepping all day long. After two sluggish performances, WVU played its best game of the season last week en route to a 37–31 win at Maryland. Quarterback Geno Smith was fantastic, throwing for 388 yards against a solid Terrapin defense. He will have to be at his best on Saturday against a ferocious LSU defense. The key to the game, in my opinion, will be red zone scoring. West Virginia will have to score touchdowns when (and if) they get into the red zone and will have to limit LSU to field goals. The Mountaineers will have a hard time winning this game if LSU scores at least three touchdowns.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I believe Arkansas could keep it close against Alabama and possibly pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa. The Razorbacks had a 20-7 lead in the middle of the third quarter of last year’s game, but two Ryan Mallett fourth-quarter picks let the Tide come back for a 24-20 victory. New quarterback Tyler Wilson must avoid the turnovers (Mallett had three picks) that killed Arkansas in that loss to Bama. The improved Hogs defense should be able to contain the Tide’s conservative offense fairly well, unless Jerry Franklin and crew are dealing with short fields resulting from turnovers. As far as LSU, I think Miles’ bunch will handle the crazy atmosphere in Morgantown and grind out another win. While I see the big boys – Alabama and LSU – both winning, Petrino’s bunch has a good chance if they take care of the football.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I’d be very surprised if Arkansas or West Virginia won this Saturday, so I’m going to say neither. The Razorbacks had a good chance to knock off Alabama last season, but couldn’t close the deal in the second half. Although Tyler Wilson is a capable replacement at quarterback, the rebuilt offensive line will be tested by a very good Alabama defense. If I had to give an edge between West Virginia or Arkansas, I think the Mountaineers’ have a slightly better chance. However, considering the struggles of West Virginia’s offensive line, I’m not sure they will be able to get on track offensively. Additionally, LSU’s secondary is one of the best in college football, which will be a difficult test for quarterback Geno Smith.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Frankly, I don't like either one to get the win, but I will go with West Virginia as the more likely candidate. The Mountaineers have yet to play an entire game of football as it stumbled out of the gates against both Marshall and Norfolk State before flipping the switch at halftime. It finally put together an electric first half against Maryland, but slowed to a grinding halt in the second, allowing the Terps to make a big comeback. The game is in Morgantown and the atmosphere will be downright nasty, so if the Mountaineers can put two couch-igniting halves together, LSU could find itself returning to Baton Rouge with an L.
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