Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers (2) passes against Kentucky during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State Takes on Arkansas for Bowl Eligibility

The Mississippi State Bulldogs will be looking for their third straight victory when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday. Mississippi State defeated Kentucky last Saturday, 31-17. Arkansas snapped a three-game losing streak with a 45-3 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

MSU Rush Defense vs Arkansas Rush Offense

The big showdown in this game will be between the Arkansas rushing attack and the Mississippi State rush defense. The Razorbacks have the fourth-best rushing attack in the country while the Bulldogs have the fifth-best rush defense in the country. Both teams have a lot of talent to offer. Something has to give.

Arkansas runs the ball for just under 250 yards per game. They have three players who have carried for more than 400 yards this year. This includes two running backs and their quarterback, all three of whom are averaging more than five yards per attempt. Arkansas’s coach, Sam Pittman, plans to run the ball since it has proven to be successful.

The running backs, junior Trelon Smith and freshman Raheim Sanders are the two running options. They have combined for five rushing touchdowns while freshman quarterback KJ Jefferson has added five touchdowns of his own. The most impressive fact is that none of these players has had a rush longer than 42 yards. In addition, the Razorbacks have wide receiver , Treylon Burks, who had great downfield ability.

Mississippi State have had a great rush defense. The Bulldogs limit opponent rush yards to under 90 yards per game. Mississippi State relies on downhill linebacker play and disciplined execution from their defensive tackles. Linebackers Nathaniel Watson and Jett Johnson lead the team in tackles, each having more than 50. Although the Razorbacks have Burks, the Bulldogs have corner Martin Emerson. He can be trusted in man-to-man coverage against Burks. Overall, Mississippi state head coach, Mike Leach, wants his defense to keep Arkansas off balanced.

 

MSU pass offense vs. Arkansas pass defense

Similar to the other matchup, this is strength vs. strength. MSU passes for more than 370 yards per game, which is fifth-best in the country. Arkansas limits opponents to fewer than 170 pass yards per game, which is the eighth-best in the country.

Leach acknowledged that this forced the Bulldogs to run the ball more, which in turn softened the coverage a bit. In MSU’s last game against Kentucky, than ran 35 times — its highest total since Leach arrived and just the 2nd time they’ve reached 30. This is all possible because MSU quarterback Will Rogers II. He has great efficiency completing 36 of 39 passes.

What to expect

Both teams will come in with a 5-3 overall mark and a win here could help procure a better bowl destination. This game will rest on whether the Bulldogs can slow down the Razorbacks’ rushing attack.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs head to Arkansas Nov. 6. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. ET.

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