We’re beautifully close to football season, and even though last year was the worst year of all-time, there’s actually some reason to be hopeful. For that reason, we’re breaking down each game we’ll play this year, and exploring a little bit about each opponent. Ultimately we’ll make some level of prediction about our chances, for better or worse. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ArkansasFight to keep up with all the latest posts, and don’t forget to sign up to be a pollster for our site!
Week 2 - September 7, 2019
Oxford, MS - Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Kickoff is at 6:30PM CT.
Entering his third season at the helm, the Rebels are coached by Matt Luke.
Originally tapped as the interim after Hugh Freeze was forced to resign in July 2017, Luke was given the full-time job in November of that year and has posted an 11-13 (4-12 SEC) record in his first two seasons.
For the first time in his tenure, Luke will get the opportunity to guide a bowl eligible team with the sanctions from the last few years now behind them. Residing in the extremely competitive SEC West, the path to six wins will be difficult for Ole Miss.
The Rebels open up with a trip to Memphis to play one of the Group of Five’s best teams and also play California in a non-conference game. Road games against Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State will be brutal for this team. This is a program that only won one conference game in 2018, it will be key for Luke’s squad to show they are trending in the right direction in 2019.
Our record against them:
Having met annually since 1981, September 7 will be the 66th matchup in this rivalry’s history. According to the Razorbacks, Arkansas holds a 36-28-1 lead in the series; Ole Miss has it at 35-29-1.
The game in question was the 1914 meeting where Arkansas considered Ole Miss to have forfeited due to using an ineligible player. Ole Miss has denied the allegation and continues to use the game’s 13-7 score as official, thus the one game difference.
Ole Miss won last year’s meeting in Little Rock at War Memorial Stadium, 37-33. Prior to 2018, Arkansas had won four straight.
It is very possible that the loser of this game will be looking at a last place finish in the SEC West, perhaps college football’s toughest division.
QB Matt Corral: A four-star recruit in the 2018 cycle, Corral backed up Jordan Ta’amu last year but still saw action in four games. In this limited action, he completed 16-22 passes (72.7%) for 239 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
New offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez is in the process of implementing his new offense in Oxford. Given Rodriguez’s background, we will likely see Ole Miss have more of a reliance on the ground game than in years past.
RG Ben Brown: An SEC All-Freshman Team selection in 2018, Brown was one of just three freshmen in the country to start every game at right guard.
The Rebels have a very young and thin offensive line, Brown’s experience will be leaned on heavily.
RB Scottie Phillips: Falling just short of 1,000 yards in his first year at Ole Miss, Phillips totaled 928 yards on 153 attempts (6.1 AVG). Finding the end zone twelve times on the ground and twice through the air, he is one of few returning weapons for this offense.
Named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List, it will be interesting to see Phillips’ fit into Rodiguez’s scheme.
CB Jaylon Jones: Establishing himself as one of the SEC’s best kick returners as a sophomore in 2017, Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2018 opener vs. Texas Tech.
Ready to contribute again as a redshirt junior, Jones defends against the run very well for a cornerback and was named to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-SEC Third Team.
It appears that sophomore wide receiver Elijah Moore will handle the return duties in 2019, but Jones’ presence will be welcomed back with open arms.
DT Benito Jones: Starting 26 of the contests, Jones has appeared in all 36 games since 2016 for Ole Miss.
At 6-foot-1, 326 pounds, he is a tough to contain, run-stopping force in the middle. Racking up nine tackles for loss and three sacks in 2018, Jones will be an early-season test for the interior of the Razorbacks’ offensive line.
A very short recap of their last season:
The Rebels opened 2018 with an impressive 47-27 trashing of Texas Tech at NRG Stadium, and followed it up with a victory over Southern Illinois to move to 2-0.
They would suffer their first loss of the season the following week at the hands of Alabama and lost their final five games to finish 5-7 (1-7 SEC).
Serving the final year of a two-year bowl ban, the 2018 Rebels would not have been able to attend a bowl game even if they did reach six wins.
How we feel about our chances:
While both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks, I like Arkansas in this game.
It will be key to see marked improvement on the offensive side of the ball if we are to see a bowl game. Ole Miss and Missouri look like our best shots at SEC wins and I’ll think we’ll take care of business here.
Thanks for checking out the second part of our series on Arkansas’ 2019 Football Season, be sure to sign up for our SB Nation poll, and follow @ArkansasFight on Twitter. Also feel free to follow Teddy Rydquist @TeddyRydquist.