Holding the #1 team in the nation to 17 points is an amazing accomplishment. Mississippi State hadn't scored below 34 points in any games this year, so holding them to half that number is a huge part of why Arkansas had such a great chance to win.
Despite the great play throughout the game, the defense did suffer a breakdown in the 4th quarter when they could least afford it. Here's a breakdown of two plays that tell the story of the game.
These two plays are thrown to the same player (Fred Ross), one is an interception by Alan Turner, and the other is a 68 yard touchdown for Miss St. Dak Prescott is hit while he is throwing on both, but the big play in the fourth quarter came at a critical time in the game giving the Bulldogs the lead and putting the pressure back on the Arkansas offense.
Here is what happened on these two plays:
Situation: Arkansas ahead 3-0
1st Q: 9:11
2nd and 10 at MSST 46 Dak Prescott pass intercepted by Alan Turner return for no gain to the Ark 36
Arkansas did exactly what they needed, they took the opening kick and went down the field methodically on an 11 play drive chewing up over 5:00 of clock and converting a field goal.
On Mississippi State's first possession Alan Turner comes up with a big interception and the Hogs are rolling on the top-ranked Bulldogs early. Here is how it went.
State motions into a Trips formation with Fred Ross running a corner route, or he can break it off to an out if the safety plays too deep over the top or if the corner does not drop deep enough. DJ Dean does a good job of getting depth forcing Ross to the corner.
Robb Smith calls an End, Tackle twist up front bringing Trey Flowers inside where he is able to get pressure on Prescott and force him to throw early.
Prescott first looks to the top of the screen but his WR is covered by the rolled up corner. He goes through his reads and looks to the trips side where Ross runs the same route that he would score on in the 4th Q but this time Prescott tries to stay in the pocket and throw.
Turner breaks on an underthrown ball and comes up with the pick setting the Arkansas offense up in scoring position.
Arkansas 10 Miss. ST. 10
4th Q 13:20
3rd and 4 at MSST 31 Dak Prescott pass complete to Fred Ross for 69 yds for a TD
Dak Prescott is able to scramble out of the pocket and buy just enough time to find Ross behind the corner who had a deep 1/3 of the field to that side.
Turner has no deep threat in the middle, and expects to have a deep 1/3 defender on the trips side. He has to break on the inside route to prevent the easy completion over the middle at the sticks. It is a tough play to make, and with miscommunication turns into points.
Bad play aside, it is exciting to think of what this defense can be in a few seasons. Fans will not take much solace in this fact when the D gives up a critical play like this, but there will be breakdowns at times. The future is bright!