It’s Halloween, but the trick for Arkansas comes tomorrow in Starkville as the Razorbacks will attempt to knock off the No. 1 ranked team in the nation.
Jonathan Williams ran for 108 tough yards against Georgia, an accomplishment he’ll need to eclipse in order to give the Hogs a chance against Mississippi State.
Date: Saturday, November 1
Time: 7:15 PM EST
Place: Davis Wade Stadium
TV: ESPN 2/Watch ESPN
Radio: IMG Razorback Sports Network
What Arkansas must do to win- The Razorbacks would have been wise to study two films this week: Alabama vs. Arkansas and Mississippi State vs. Kentucky. Arkansas will rely on their defense to step it up and stuff the Bulldogs about as well as they managed to stifle the Crimson Tide not long ago. Should the Razorbacks be successful in limiting Dak Prescott and Co., we should expect the game to be put into Brandon Allen’s hands. Nobody in the SEC runs better than the Hogs, but as of today, nobody stops the run better than the Dogs.
What Mississippi State will try to do to win- It shouldn’t be a surprise when the Bulldogs take their home-field and pound the rock to the sound of 55,000 cowbells. The Bulldogs’ defense has enough holes to keep Arkansas in the game, but you can count on each and every Mississippi State offensive drive to mean something. Defensively, the Bulldogs will do exactly what Alabama and Georgia did before them in bringing the pressure to swallow the Hogs’ run and force Brandon Allen to pass.
The Razorbacks’ motivation- 16 consecutive SEC losses and all is forgotten if Arkansas pulls off the titanic upset on Saturday. Of all the work Bret Bielema has done to turn the program around, a road-win over No. 1 will mean immediate payoff. Should the Razorbacks falter, they at least need to keep the game close and avoid another blowout loss to an SEC West opponent.
The Bulldogs’ motivation- Its obvious, Mississippi State loses that No. 1 ranking with a loss. To make matters worse, losing to an unranked, 4-4 team would mean a College Football Playoff rankings plummet for the Dawgs.
Arkansas player to watch- It’s already been stated, but we’ll say it again, Brandon Allen needs to play the game of his life. Arkansas will try to run the ball early but the Bulldogs have proven to be tenacious in defending the ground game. If Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins can do better than 3.4 yards per carry, the Hogs are wide open to use that coveted play action pass to make big plays and beat a below-average Mississippi State secondary.
Mississippi State player to watch– Dak Prescott is the obvious choice as he’s the pulse of the Bulldogs’ offense and the reason Mississippi State is the top team in the nation. Prescott can beat any team with his legs, but count on Dan Mullen to get his passing game back on track following shoddy performances against Auburn and Kentucky. This week is no different in that the Bulldogs will live and die by Dak Prescott’s ability to make big plays.
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Razorbacks’ Wildcard- Jonathan Williams ran for 108 tough yards against Georgia, an accomplishment he’ll need to eclipse in order to give the Hogs a chance against Mississippi State. The Hogs will likely be forced to pass more than they’re comfortable, but if J-Will can create many “2nd and 5” or “3rd and short” situations, Arkansas’ offense will be set up for success.
Bulldogs’ Wildcard- Josh Robinson is more of an “ace in the hole” than a wildcard, but as we saw last week, the junior running back has no problem taking over the game. Robinson is an explosive runner who poses a huge threat in the open field. If Mississippi State’s passing game is the least bit successful, it’s due to Josh Robinson’s work on the ground.
Final Outlook- Last week it was Sebastian Tretola’s touchdown pass and this week, God willing, its the colossal-upset win over Mississippi State that has the Hogs making headlines. Everything has to go right for the Razorbacks on Saturday. Better yet, Arkansas does everything right while the Dawgs come out flat. An upset victory seems unlikely for so many, but if there’s one thing we can always take away from Bret Bielema, it’s to never count out the Hogs.