With only two games remaining in the regular season, the Arkansas Razorbacks look to capture one more win and become bowl eligible for the first time in three years. The Razorbacks take on the No. 8 ranked Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday at 2:30pm in Fayetteville. It’s Senior Day for Arkansas and their last home game of the 2014 season.
“Hogs rank 87th in passing at just 199 yards per game, but rank 20th in rush offense with 232 yards per game”
The Rebels are currently a 3 ½ point favorite on the road, but face a very tough and upset minded Arkansas team that’s coming off their first SEC win since Bret Bielema took over as head coach. Ole Miss has an outside chance of making the College Football playoff with Arkansas and Mississippi State still on their schedule. The Rebels obviously need two victories and a little help from Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Saturday’s game becomes the ultimate “look ahead” game for Ole Miss with the Egg Bowl on the horizon.
Arkansas will look to take advantage early as they have in every game this season; outscoring opponents 110-35 in the 1st quarter. Time of possession will also be key for an Arkansas victory this weekend. The Hogs have dominated this category for much of the season, but extending drives will be a test against a tough Rebel defense.
Ole Miss has many weapons and some of best recruiting classes in the country over the past two seasons, but will be without top receiver Laguon Treadwell after he suffered a season-ending leg injury. How much will they miss Treadwell in the passing game? The Rebels appear to have a lot of depth at the position and could exploit the Arkansas secondary, especially in the first half. Rohan Gaines will be missing at safety for the first half of the game, due to a suspension during the LSU game on a hit to a defense-less player. Gaines is one of Arkansas’ biggest hitters on defense and freshman backups will face a tough test in replacing him.
Nov 9, 2013; Oxford, MS, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks running back Jonathan Williams (32) advances the ball during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Arkansas Keys –
Pressuring Ole Miss Quarterback Bo Wallace is the key factor in the upset bid for Arkansas. Expect senior defensive end Trey Flowers to garner a lot of attention from the Rebel offensive line. I expect defensive coordinator Robb Smith to dial up a lot of blitzes and different looks on defense to confuse and pressure Wallace.
Getting running back Jonathan Williams carries early will dictate how the Razorbacks play in this game. Williams needs to get it early and often as Arkansas will need to produce a run game to open up their play action passing later in the game.
Ole Miss Keys –
Pass the ball a lot! Bo Wallace needs to be on-time and on-target against what I’d call, a weaker secondary in the SEC. The Hogs are prone to giving up big plays in the passing game and the Rebels should exploit the weakness without Gaines defending the deep pass in the first thirty minutes.
Put the best pass defender Ole Miss has on tight end Hunter Henry. Henry’s numbers won’t make you shake in your “Hotty Toddy’s,” but he’s certainly the Hogs’ biggest playmaker and could be a difference maker if Ole Miss doesn’t shadow him.
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The Stats –
Ole Miss is ranked 10th in the nation in total defense, allowing 309.8 yards per game. Arkansas ranks a surprising 22nd, allowing 340.6 yards per game.
Ole Miss is ranked 37th in total offense, averaging 447.1 yards per game, while Arkansas is ranked 47th, averaging 432.8 yards per game. However, while the Rebels garner a dual-attack of run and pass, the Hogs rank 87th in passing at just 199 yards per game, but rank 20th in rush offense with 232 yards per game.
The Hogs are dead even in turnover margin on the season, which ranks them toward the middle of the pack nationally. Ole Miss is ranked 5th in the nation in turnover margin with a plus 1.30 margin.