Razorbacks

Hogs Ready to Bring the Boot to Fayetteville

What these current Razorbacks know most about the Golden Boot is they’ve never had it.

The huge Golden Boot Trophy resides either at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville or Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge pending on whether Arkansas’ Razorbacks or LSU’s Tigers win their annual SEC West football game.

Arkansas last beat LSU in 2014. So the trophy since 2015 has stayed in Baton Rouge where the Razorbacks, a bowl eligible 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the SEC, and the Tigers, 2019 national champions but this season 4-5, 2-4, play Saturday night.

Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium, more often called Death Valley, and televised by the SEC Network.

Arkansas’ offensive line coach from 2013-2015 for Bret Bielema, second-year Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman well remembers the immediate postgame excitement that frigid  2014 night in Fayetteville when they dashed to retrieve The Boot.

Obviously all eligibility is spent from the Hogs last team to grab The Boot instead of booted by LSU.

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We’ve had to show the team what the trophy looks like because we’ve never seen it,” Pittman said. “We’d like to have it. I’m sure LSU would like to keep it, but we’d like to have it, too.”

Departing at season’s end but still there LSU Coach Ed Orgeron, still enormously strong like his 1980s days as a strength coach serving Razorbacks Coach Ken Hatfield’s staff, was jokingly asked on Wednesday’s SEC Coaches/Media teleconference if he personally had hoisted the enormous Boot.

“You’re funny, man,” Orgeron said, laughing.  “No, no. But I’ll tell you, man, we love that boot trophy. We’d love for it to stay right here in Louisiana.”

The Boot becomes all the bigger to Arkansas, junior tight end Trey Knox vows. It’s bigger because have vowed for a November run that started with last Saturday’s 31-28 SEC victory over then College Football Playoff Committee 17th-ranked Mississippi State with SEC games left Saturday night at LSU, Nov. 20 at nationally No. 2 Alabama and Nov. 26 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Missouri.

The Hogs start their hoped for run forged into the CFP rankings at No. 25 knowing their bowl picture brightens the more they win starting with Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

“Very big,” Knox said of Saturday’s stakes.  “Just knowing we can compete with these boys and we can get the Boot back and bring it back home. It’s a big game just to keep this run going and try to get to a better bowl. So it’s very important.”

After eight games in eight weeks, the bye week that Arkansas had between its Oct. 23 45-3 nonconference victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Little Rock and last Saturday’s victory over Mississippi State game helped several Hogs, including defensive end Trey Williams, it seems.

Starring early in the season, especially earning SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his two sacks/three quarterback hurries performance in the Sept. 25 20-10 SEC success over Texas A&M, was getting banged up and gradually less effective in October.

Against Mississippi State he was back in form, four tackles, two of them sacks, and a quarterback hurry.

“I think he was healthy last week and he’s healthy today,” Pittman said Wednesday.  “He’s our best pass rusher  and he’s just got to find a way to get the quarterback which I’m very confident in him.”

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