That felt easy.
I told people this week I had no idea what would happen. We’ve seen Arkansas play absolutely terribly this season and show flashes of brilliance. Offensively, this entire game was a giant flash. And that’s good, because Mississippi State still put up 42 points on the Hogs.
It isn’t often that you can go on the road and give up 40+ and win, but you take it when it happens. It happened for Mississippi State last season. Our turn.
The Dogs couldn’t stop Arkansas, and mostly that meant Rawleigh Williams. Williams scored four touchdowns, including on runs of 72, 42, and 33 yards - and had at least one nice stiff arm on his way to the end zone. He ended up with 205 rushing yards, which will move to over 1,200 on the season and put him into the top 10 list of Arkansas’ best single-season rushing totals - and still with a game to go. And he also had a passing touchdown. For real. On a trick play that appeared to be a running play on the goal line, Williams pulled up and tossed the ball to Austin Cantrell.
Austin Allen was also pretty good. His line was 18-25 for 303 yards and two touchdowns with no picks. Not shabby. He delivered on some key third downs as well. He did miss a couple of open touchdown passes, but thankfully, it didn’t matter.
One thing that really stood out about the offense tonight was Arkansas’ willingness to use more of the younger players on offense. Cheyenne (aka C.J.) O’Grady caught a 23-yard pass and was targeted for a touchdown catch another time. Grayson Gunter caught a 29-yard pass. T.J. Hammonds had a 30-yard run. My only question is, why only one for those guys? They all looked great! Let’s get them involved more.
This team somehow only scored 3 points in a game less than a month ago. Nothing makes sense.
Defensively, Arkansas just is what it is at this point. They gave up 5.9 yards per rush. That’s actually an improvement. There’s no reason to think it’ll be better on the road at Missouri nor in the bowl game. It’s really bad. Historically awful. We have no idea what Bret Bielema will do after the season. It certainly wouldn’t surprise anybody at this point if he made a change at defensive coordinator, but it would be shock if that wasn’t at least on the table. As we’ve made the point before, this is almost the exact same defense Arkansas had last year, and they even added a 5* defensive lineman. They still gave up 533 yards.
One of the turning points of the game came when State punted on a 4th-and-1 early in the second quarter. As bad as Arkansas’ defense is, it had to tear Dan Mullen apart to punt there. The Razorbacks were up 21-14 at the time, and the Hogs tacked on a field goal to make the game a two-possession game, and it would never be a one-possession game again.
The win means Arkansas should avoid the dreaded Birmingham and Independence Bowls and will almost definitely end up in the Pool of Six. The Hogs now travel to Columbia to take on Missouri, a team that has already lost 8 games this year, but does feature a freshman running back from Little Rock in Damarea Crockett who has run for 379 yards over the last two games. The Razorbacks didn’t offer Crockett, so you know he’ll be motivated to go, especially against this Hog run defense. But, they are 3-8 in the dreadful SEC East, so it could be another shootout similar to the Mississippi State game. Should be fun.