LSU, Arkansas to play on day after Thanksgiving again
It may not be a tradition unlike any other, but in this part of the country, LSU and Arkansas playing on the Friday after Thanksgiving has become as traditional as post-Turkey Day leftovers.
Wednesday, LSU and CBS officials announced that once again the Tigers and Razorbacks will be squaring off on the final Friday of the regular season, though this year it will have the added twist of a different venue.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at Arkansas’ Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
This will be just the second meeting between the Tigers and Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
The only other time was in 1992 — the year Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference. The Razorbacks clobbered the Tigers 30-6 that day, the dismal coda to a 2-9 season that ranks as LSU’s worst ever.
The stakes are expected to be quite different two decades later.
After reaching the BCS national championship game and finishing 13-1, defending SEC champion LSU is likely to start at or near the top of most of the preseason polls.
Arkansas, which went 11-2 and finished No. 5 last season with losses only to LSU and BCS champion Alabama, could still be a preseason top 10 team despite the scandal-ridden ouster of Bobby Petrino last month.
As with most schools around the SEC, Arkansas has made big improvements to its home stadium since the last time LSU played in Fayetteville.
Razorback Stadium underwent a $110 million renovation in 2001 — a $20 million donation earned Donald Reynolds the right to put his name on the facility — which increased its capacity from 51,000 to 72,000.
LSU and Arkansas played every even numbered year from 1994-2010 at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium, a 54,120-seat facility. The Razorbacks hold a 5-4 edge in those games.
Because Arkansas is required to play two home games a year in Little Rock — one SEC and one nonconference — it has traditionally made sense for that game to be against LSU. Little Rock is a shorter drive for LSU fans, and Arkansas students are at home when the game is played on Thanksgiving break.
This year, however, Arkansas’ two games in Little Rock will be against Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 8 and Ole Miss on Oct. 27.
In addition, Arkansas announced Wednesday that what is now an SEC series against Texas A&M will move from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to on-campus sites the next two years. This year’s Arkansas-A&M game will be at Kyle Field, while the 2013 game will be in Fayetteville.
The game may return to Cowboys Stadium in 2014.
Though all 12 of LSU’s games will be televised in some form or another, this is just the second confirmed TV game for the Tigers in 2012.
CBS will also do the LSU-Alabama game in prime time from Tiger Stadium on Nov. 3. Kickoff time has not been set.