Arkansas continues to prepare for the task at hand and that's going to Death Valley trying to beat a talented LSU team ranked No. 25 in the Coaches Poll.
The simple math tells one that Arkansas (4-5, 1-4) has to win two of the three remaining games to be bowl eligible. Bret Bielema isn't concerned with that, instead hoping to have his team focused only on LSU. He talked about avoiding the bowl talk.
"No, I think there was a little bit of that that came out in the Auburn prep," Bielema said. "Guys were talking about where we could go from there. There was a reference to the last time they (Auburn) were here … I don't know. I can't remember the math. At that time we could get to get 8-4 or whatever it was and I thought there was a lot more dialogue on what needed to be in place and that was the preparation at that hand.
"After that game and going into the Ole Miss prep and last week for Coastal Carolina, I think when we get into our season as deep as we are, no matter where you're at you just concentrate on the task at hand. Last week it was them, this week it's LSU. I tried to reiterate it and I think guys bought into it. But it's a natural reaction, everybody in today's world tries to go a little bit beyond what's in front of them. The more you stay attached, the better you'll be."
The Hogs are coming off a 39-38 win over Coastal Carolina and Bielema knows this team will have to play much better to beat a good LSU (6-3, 3-2) team.
"Get back into SEC play. We got a victory on Saturday. We should get ourselves a little bit healthier going into the final stretch here. Tough challenge to go over and play LSU, an 11 o'clock kick. A game that has been a tough fought-out game ever since I've been here. I think we've won two of the last three, two of the four. To go over there and get a victory you have to be at your best."
Arkansas defeated LSU 31-14 in Death Valley in 2015 in a night game. It is widely presumed LSU is at its best in night games, but this game will be an 11 a.m. kickoff televised on ESPN. Bielema talked about playing in the day there with some suggesting maybe the Hogs caught a break with the scheduling.
"I get the question," Bielema said. "But I'll bet you if you ask LSU in their locker room, they like playing Arkansas any time. You know what I mean? It's a rivalry game. We don't control anything about TV times or when or where. We just play the schedule that's in front of us. I'd hate to venture to guess how they do or don't feel. The LSU team I've seen on film looks like they're ready to play pretty much all the time."
Ed Orgeron did address the early kickoff and playing the Razorbacks. He enjoyed the suggestion maybe the fans will go straight from their party on Friday night to Tiger Stadium early on Saturday.
"Sounds like a good idea," Orgeron said. "I think they'll be here. From what I hear, we're going to have a great crowd. I know our fans are excited with the type of football we've been playing lately. I think they're seeing tremendous improvement in our football team and they're going to come out and support us. We expect a great crowd."
LSU is coming off a 24-10 loss to Alabama. LSU's defense held the Tide to 299 yards of total offense including only 116 on the ground. Bielema is aware of the type defense his team will see on Saturday.
"They're a team that probably, just from pure numbers wise, talent wise, match up very, very well," Bielema said. "Their defensive line, their linebackers, we recruited a couple of those guys. Their secondary is very, very physical, get their hands on you.
"And that game is always, since I've been here, a knockdown drag out. Even going down late in the game, it was probably just a break or two away from being a little bit closer on the scoreboard at the end. We've got a very physical team on our hands and one we've got to prepare for."
LSU returns junior running back Derrius Guice who ran through Arkansas' defense last season. He has been injured on and off this season. Is he healthy now?
"He's the healthiest he's been," Orgeron said. "He began being his healthiest at Ole Miss. You can see the change in the way he's run the football. We've been resting him when we need to rest him. I think he's going to be as healthy as he should be come Saturday morning at 11."
Guice leads LSU with 143 carries for 782 yards and six touchdowns. He also has 11 receptions for 71 yards. Bielema gave his impressions of Guice.
"I would say even going into last year there was a lot of dialogue about who was going to be playing at running back and Guice," Bielema said. "The thing I was I witnessed in the games leading up to our game a year ago was how talented he was and the opportunities that they were giving him. I'm sure very similar to a lot of teams, when you've got several guys at one position, being able to balance out the reps, you just try to do the best you can and let guys take advantage of their opportunities.
"This year we knew he was going to be kind of the feature guy, and he's been that guy. He runs with a great demeanor. He probably has the whole bag of tricks. He's got speed, he's got ability and agility to run you over. He's very patient with his blocking scheme. But they have a couple guys at that position that can play good football."
Arkansas has 14 players on its roster from Louisiana. Bielema talked about those players going home to play a game.
"I knew coming into Arkansas obviously kids from Arkansas goes with it," Bielema said. "But the proximity, and Michael Smith coming from Louisiana has allowed us to recruit in there. A lot of recruiting battles with LSU on guys. Not just Louisiana players, but maybe players we're on in Texas and Florida. So there's a lot that, that goes with it. Then because we've developed a roster with so many Louisiana players it's become a bigger deal.
"But on the same account, I think all of our guys, as evidenced by my second year here when we won the Boot, how many guys that aren't from Louisiana were so engaged with the preparation to get the Boot, and then obviously after the game was won, the celebration around it. The same thing the next year. And then last year to be quite honest the disappointment to not retain it I think hurt our guys a lot. That's something we're playing up this week for sure."
Orgeron is impressed with what Bielema and his staff have done in Louisiana. He even noted the play of one particular player, freshman kick returner-wide receiver, De'Vion Warren.
"I think they're going to be fired up," Orgeron said. "I'd love to have De'Vion Warren on my football team right now. He's an excellent football player. Those guys have done a good job of recruiting Louisiana, they've done a good job of evaluating Louisiana talent. I've got to give them some credit."
Warren has returned 21 kickoffs for an average of 27.2 yards with a 100-yard touchdown against Auburn included.