Mississippi State has often been a formality, a speed bump, or at worst a small hill with a not-so-steep incline. In fact, Arkansas enjoyed a 15-2 record over the Dogs from 1995 through 2011. The only losses coming in Bobby Petrino’s first season (that loss was 10% of Croom’s 10 SEC wins) and a fiasco in 1998 the week after the Stoernover. The Bulldogs kicked 5 field goals including one with 7 seconds left to keep Arkansas out of Atlanta and a rematch with the Vols.
As Bob Dylan said, the times they are a’changing. Dan Mullen started off 0-3 against the Hogs but won 4 in a row over the Hogs to improve his record dramatically. Several of those wins could be attributed to Dak Prescott, but the Hogs should’ve had last year’s game if it weren’t for a blocked field goal.
Occasionally games against Miss St. matter, like the 2006 season. Arkansas hadn’t won 10 games in a season since 1989. They could clinch a chance at the SEC Championship Game. Darren McFadden could continue to pad his stats over a bottom dweller in the SEC West.
But Mississippi State was at home on Senior Day, and they played well. Their defense held Arkansas to 256 yards of total offense. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones combined for 128 yards. It was a recipe for disaster, but when the Bulldogs were knocking on the door, Chris Houston took an interception 87 yards for a touchdown. Anthony Dixon struck right back with a 60 yard rushing touchdown to tie the game up.
When MSU kicked it off, they tried to kick it short, hoping one of the upfield players would fall on it, but it trickled back to Darren McFadden at the 8 yard line, and no one touched him as he sprinted 92 yards for a touchdown.
Still, the Bulldogs picked off Casey Dick (who had supplanted Freshman Starter Mitch Mustain two weeks prior after an interception in Columbia) and scored again to tie it at 14-14. Despite a missed field goal, Arkansas took advantage of poor clock management and a personal foul on the punt against the Dogs to score on a 29 yard pass to Damian Williams heading into halftime to make it 21-14.
The 2nd half was even better on defense for the Dogs, but worse on offense. The Hogs were never threatened beyond a Bulldog turnover on downs at the Razorback 14 yard line and used another goal line interception by Chris Houston to keep the Dogs at 14. The Hogs did add another touchdown thanks to a double reverse out of the Wildcat which featured a McFadden handoff to Jones with a handoff to Dick who threw a 34 yard touchdown throw to Marcus Monk. The play occurs just after the 5 minute mark in the video below
It’s not that far fetched to say the Hogs have a lot to play for this Saturday in Starkville. Let’s hope they don’t let the Bulldogs play spoilers again. Even if it takes 14 points on defense and special teams.