Another week, another flashy offense grounded by the Razorback defense.
Arkansas’ defense forced seven turnovers, including a pair of pick-sixes, and shocked Ole Miss 33-21 in Fayetteville. It was the Razorbacks’ first home SEC win since 2016.
The Arkansas offense had another rough performance and nearly blew a 20-0 halftime lead, but Ole Miss’s offense, one week after putting up the most yards ever on a Nick Saban team, was grounded to a halt by Barry Odom’s defense. Matt Corral, who entered the game ranked 2nd in the FBS in quarterback rating, completed 20 of 38 passes for 200 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions.
Arkansas’ MVPs are all over. Grant Morgan recorded 19 tackles, including three for loss, and a pick-six that sealed the game with three minutes to go. Jalen Catalon had a pick-six. Hudson Clark, a freshman walk-on from Highland Park, made career interceptions number one, two, and three. Greg Brooks also had an interception, while Jonathan Marshall and Hayden Henry were all over the field. Ole Miss rolled up 442 yards, but much of that was for nothing. Arkansas made two goal-line stands at the 1-yard line after long Ole Miss drives.
Offensively, Treylon Burks returned to action for the first time in a couple weeks and... well, he pretty much was the offense. Burks had 11 receptions for 137 yards and an impressive touchdown and added 46 rushing yards. The return of Rakeem Boyd didn’t go quite as well (14 carries, 39 yards, TD). Feleipe Franks was decent, but Arkansas’ offensive gameplan to get Franks outside the pocket through options and rollouts didn’t make a lot of sense and didn’t work well. Franks completed 21 of 34 passes for 244 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He added 14 carries for 16 yards and a lost fumble, though that includes three sacks.
The Hogs built an early lead. After a three-and-out on the opening series, the defense made a goal-line stand, setting up a 95-yard touchdown drive that was aided by a roughing the punter penalty and included a 50-yard pass from Franks to Burks. Another defensive stop helped the offense drive and set up a field goal to make it 10-0 early in the second quarter.
Then the turnover game began. Catalon picked off Corral and returned it for a score to make it 17-0. Clark’s first interception then set up a field goal to make it 20-0 at halftime. The offense struggled in the second and third quarters against one of the worst defenses in the country.
After half, things started to look dicey. After Ole Miss’s first drive of the third quarter ended in another goal line stand, the Hogs’ offense couldn’t go anywhere and Ole Miss finally scored to make it 20-7. Then things got worse when a Franks fumble gave the ball right back to the Rebels deep in Hog territory. But a Brooks interception ended the threat. The Hogs managed a couple first downs before a bobble by De’Vion Warren led to an interception by Ole Miss and once again, things looked dicey. But Clark’s second pick at the end of the third quarter saved a 20-7 lead entering the final frame.
Hog fans were on the edge of their seats throughout the final frame. Ole Miss finally found the end zone to cut the lead to 20-14, and the offense finally came to life in a Burks-heavy drive that ended with a beautiful one-handed catch by Burks in the back of the end zone to make it 26-14 (a weird 2-point conversion play did not work at all). Ole Miss went three-and-out... but the Rebels faked a punt and, incredibly, caught the Hogs completely flat-footed. The huge play set up a touchdown to make it 26-21 and when the Hogs had to punt with under 4 minutes left, the situation was dire.
But that’s when Morgan picked off Corral and returned it for a score to make it 33-21 and end the threat. Ole Miss’s final desperation drive ended in Clark’s third interception of the game.
The Rebels outgained the Hogs 442-394 but Ole Miss’s offense had no answers for Odom’s deep zone. Arkansas’ defensive line had an incredible game, bossing around the Rebel offensive linemen and preventing Ole Miss from simply dicing the deep zone on the ground.
Arkansas goes to 2-2 (we all know it’s actually 3-1). The Hogs now get a much-needed idle week. Bumper Pool, Dorian Gerald, and Montaric Brown did not play due to injuries. Morgan is hurt. Boyd looked rusty. The Hogs need to get healthy and fix the run game.