HOW TO WATCH
Game: Arkansas vs. #23 Mississippi State
Odds: Mississippi State (-9.5)
Time: 11 AM CST, Saturday Oct. 29, 2022
TV: SEC Network
Stream: ESPN App
Series: Auburn leads 19-11
Both football programs enter this matchup with 1-3 conference records. However, both of them are in moving in two vastly different trajectories. It has been well documented that Auburn and head coach Bryan Harsin haven’t been blessed with a healthy marriage nearly from the start.
On the Arkansas side of things, the Hogs still have the momentum of a nine-win season in 2021 and are looking to make the same type of midseason run this year similar to last. It will be a tough one with a pair of ranked matchups at home against Mississippi and LSU, respectively.
•Injuries have been a hot topic this season that the Razorbacks have fought through. Thankfully, there was a bye week thaw allowed key secondary players like Myles Slusher and Jayden Johnson proper time to recover.
Can the Hogs be better on the backend of the defense? One would sure hope so but let’s be honest, they were pretty bad before the injuries started to pile on. Yes, there were times that they looked better than average. Especially two weeks ago against BYU when Jaren Hall was held at bay in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Will Bumper Pool be 100-percent this week? After the Mississippi State loss, head coach Sam Pittman mentioned what most of us already thought and that was Pool was not healthy. Pool was battling injury week in and week out and has played hurt seemingly his entire Razorback career. Something that can be admired, a true “heart of a Razorback.”
- As mentioned above, Arkansas’ pass defense will be crucial to winning the football game. With all the injured Hogs returning except those with season ending ailments, they will be near 100-percent healthy and ready to fight. Have the Hogs brought confidence to their room after allowing zero points and 52 total yards in the final 20 minutes against BYU?
Auburn doesn’t necessarily pass the ball well. The Tigers’ quarterbacks have only a 51-percent completion percentage but that’s a little inflated due to former starter, TJ Finley being very conservative. Robbie Ashford is the guy now and is extremely dangerous on his feet. Ashford will make occasional mistakes with his arm 4:5 touchdown to interception ratio and only completing 47-percent of his passes. On the ground, he is their second leading rusher with 310 yards and 3 touchdowns this season.
It will be imperative for either Pool and Drew Sanders to keep a spy on the Tigers’ dual threat quarterback and contain him from gashing the Hogs with big plays. Arkansas is the worst of all Power Five in plays of 30+ yards given up with 27.
Arkansas will need to get off the field on third down, too. The Hogs rank 113th in the nation, 43-96, in third down defense.
•KJ Jefferson won’t need to have the game of his life to lead Arkansas to a win. What the Hogs’ signal caller will need to do is execute the gameplan and trust his receivers to make plays. Throughout the season, Arkansas has shown they have grown and improved as a receiver group this season and they did just that two weeks ago against BYU.
Matt Landers had a coming out party as he led the team in receiving yards and hauled in three touchdowns. With his game breaking speed, he could gain the attention of Auburn’s secondary.
Getting the ball to your running backs in space has been a staple in the Briles’ offense for some time now. It’s finally paying off with their shifty speedsters AJ Green and Rashod Dubinion. Both running backs gained 75+ yards against BYU and should have the confidence going up against a suspect Auburn defense on Saturday.
•If Auburn thought they were over the lethal rushing attacks in the conference, they must think again with Arkansas coming to town. Raheim “Rocket” Sanders continues to pace the SEC in rushing yards with 870 yards while also scoring seven touchdowns. Sanders is on pace to have one of the best rushing performances since Darren McFadden.
The Tigers’ have allowed six players to exceed 100-yards rushing this season and it could very well happen again with the Razorbacks’ star back. Auburn is yielding an SEC worst 204 yards per game on the ground while Arkansas averages just over 240 yards. That’s the Sam Pittman way but Auburn will likely try to load the box in order to make Arkansas one dimensional.