clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arkansas - Mississippi State Features Rare Showdown of SEC's Top Quarterbacks

In a league largely driven by dominant running backs, Saturday provides us an old fashioned matchup of the league's top passers.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

This weekend's SEC schedule is, to put it lightly, pretty bad. Aside from LSU at Ole Miss and, maybe, Tennessee at Missouri for reasons beyond football, Mississippi State at Arkansas figures to be the game of the week.

Les Miles potentially coaching for his job, which seems absurd to me, the next couple of weeks brings a lot of intrigue to Magnolia Week, but it still, in my opinion, falls below the primetime game in Fayetteville tomorrow for a couple of reasons.

In recent years the SEC has become a running backs league. And that's fine. Tre Mason, Jeremy Hill, TJ Yeldon, Mike Davis, Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry and Alex Collins over the last few seasons have all deserved the spotlight. The star power entering a majority of SEC showdowns these days come from running backs and skill players.

That won't be the case Saturday in Razorback Stadium.

Alex Collins' eight 100-yard rushing games against Dak Prescott's dual threat abilities is certainly a storyline to follow. But I don't quite see it that way. This is an old fashioned, late-season SEC matchup featuring the league's top quarterbacks with something on the line. How often does this happen anymore?

An argument could be made that we've already seen the league's top quarterbacks go at it when Arkansas stunned Ole Miss and Brandon Allen and Chad Kelly put on one of the best passing displays in years. And sure, Kelly scorched Arkansas' defense, but as a whole, his decision-making has me leaning toward Prescott if I had two choose between the two.

The Southeastern Conference used to be a league driven by great quarterback play. You can trace back decades in the SEC and find high caliber quarterbacks sprinkled throughout. And the story has pretty much held up over the years: without a first-rate quarterback, you're likely to be fighting an uphill battle.

Looking at Prescott and Allen's seasons, it's remarkable to see the progress each has made the last couple of seasons. And in turn, they both have their team playing for something in late November. Meanwhile, schools with issues at quarterback – Auburn, Texas A&M, even LSU and a majority of the SEC East – are on the downslope heading into the final weeks of the regular season.

Prescott and Allen rank No. 2 and 3 in completion percentage and passing yards, respectively. And what separates them from Kelly, who by far and away has thrown for more yards than any quarterback in the league this season, is ball control.

Prescott has thrown only two interceptions in 343 attempts, and Allen has thrown just one pick in his last 80. He's also thrown for nine scores in that span. Combined, the two have 40 passing scores against eight interceptions, which will, easily, make Saturday's matchup in Fayetteville the game to watch.

The game also provides a little something extra as well. It's possible the top performing quarterback in this game will be the odds-on favorite to claim the All-SEC 1st team slot. Both are very deserving in their own right, but we'll have a good idea of how it will all shake out after this weekend.

By all means, if you'd rather watch Chad Kelly throw it around and Leonard Fournette try to get back on track against Ole Miss, go ahead. That's on you.

But the two best quarterbacks in the SEC are going head-to-head this weekend, and that's just something we don't see much anymore. Sign me up.