Remember all the positive signs you thought you saw during Week 1’s loss to Georgia?
They were real. All of them.
Arkansas’ defense churned out a monster performance on Saturday, halting the red-hot Mississippi State offense in a 21-14 defensive struggle that no one saw coming. As opposed to LSU’s failed strategy of blitzing and playing press man, the Hogs rushed three and dropped eight all night, forcing Mississippi State to complete long drives. The Bulldogs couldn’t do it. K.J. Costello completed 43 of 59 passes, but those completions went for just 313 yards and Costello tossed three interceptions: a pick-six by Greg Brooks Jr. on the opening series and two drive-killers to Joe Foucha. Arkansas also made two fourth-down stops in the red zone during the fourth quarter.
The offense wasn’t great at all, but it did just enough after losing both Rakeem Boyd and Treylon Burks to injuries early. Feleipe Franks made several great throws and made almost no mistakes. He finished 20 of 28 for 218 yards and two touchdowns. Trelon Smith handled running back duties in Boyd’s absence and recorded 14 carries for 48 yards.
The breakout star on offense was De’Vion Warren, who snagged four passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, including the icer on third-and-8 on the final drive.
The Hogs struck quickly on a Brooks pick-six. Mississippi State then marched to tie the game 7-7 in the first. The second quarter saw the Hogs’ first head-scratching moment of the game, as offensive coordinator Kendal Briles sent K.J. Jefferson in for Franks on a goal-to-go situation. Jefferson was stopped twice on called runs and the Hogs ended a 91-yard drive with no points.
But Mississippi State was unable to get anything going. On the next series, Franks hit Warren on a 19-yard touchdown on a gorgeous fake screen play. The Hogs led 14-7 at the half.
The Hogs opened the third quarter with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Franks pass to Hudson Henry for his first career touchdown. At 21-7, the Hogs were set to cruise, but unfortunately this is where the offense shut down. The Hogs would have just two first downs over their final six drives.
However, the Bulldogs were just unable to drive against defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s eight-man zone. The Hogs were soft underneath but finished tackles and let the Bulldog offense make mistakes. Mississippi State’s second half drives included two fourth-down stops and an interception.
The game was sealed with 2:30 left when a George Caratan punt was muffed by the Bulldogs and recovered by Deon Edwards, allowing the Hogs to run out most of the rest of the clock. A dumb personal foul penalty on Mike Woods kept the Hogs from running the clock out entirely, but Mississippi State’s desperation last drive started with just 25 seconds left and quickly ran out of time.
It’s Arkansas’ first SEC win since October 2017, snapping a 20-game losing streak. MSU outgained the Hogs 400-275 but four turnovers and an inability to finish drives cost the Bulldogs.
Stay tuned to Arkansas Fight for continuing coverage and reaction to Sam Pittman’s first SEC win.