Two teams coming off of almost opposite weekends will collide on Saturday night, as the Razorbacks (6-4, 4-2) host the Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3) in a game more for pride and bowl seeding than anything. Arkansas is coming off of back to back road wins against then-Top 25 teams, Ole Miss and LSU. Last season Bret Bielema’s bunch knocked off both Ole Miss and LSU in November as well. Mississippi State had a chance to spoil Alabama’s season but had difficulty in the red zone, and then met Derrick Henry who ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-6 beating at home.
While Arkansas has two bad losses, at home against Toledo and Texas Tech, if they finish strong against Mississippi State and Missouri, they will find themselves tied for second in the SEC West, and could sneak into a notable bowl game. Leading the Razorbacks this season is senior QB Brandon Allen, who exploded for 442 passing yards and six TDs in that wild 53-52 OT win over Ole Miss, and then did what needed to be done, throwing for one touchdown in the 31-14 upset at LSU. Head coach Bret Bielema says Allen is the main reason Arkansas has had so much success recently.
The reason Arkansas knocked off Ole Miss was running back Alex Collins, who snatched the lateral from tight end Hunter Henry and rumbled 31 yards for a first down. Collins, a junior from South Plantation, has rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games now, with eight TDs in that span, two against LSU. With 1,209 yards on the season, the junior tailback is third in the SEC behind two Heisman candidates Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette. Collins, one of 11 Doak Walker Award semifinalists, was praised by his head coach Bret Bielema, especially for his patience on the field.
Although Dak Prescott ranks second in the SEC in passing yards, and has 25 total touchdowns, this season has been a letdown for Mississippi State players and fans. While all three losses are to Top 15 teams at the time, the Bulldogs were expecting a run at the SEC Championship after last year’s late season meltdown. Now unranked and trying to bounce back from a big loss to the Crimson Tide, Prescott and company has to take on the red hot Razorbacks.
The Bulldogs only allow 370 yards per game, good enough for 48th in the nation, with 18.6 PPG allowed, and will need to stop an offense averaging over 34 points per game and 469 yards per game. In last season’s 17-10 victory over Arkansas, Prescott needed a fourth quarter 69 yard touchdown pass to edge the Razorbacks. Head coach Dan Mullen isn’t sleeping on Arkansas this year, and says the passing game has definitely been their biggest improvement.
Kickoff from Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville is at 7 PM on ESPN.