GRAHAM: I am not sure how to best predict this game. The sting of the last two losses still lingers, and Mississippi State poses a tough challenge for the Razorbacks. The added element is the status of KJ Jefferson, which we likely won’t know until kickoff. Ultimately, it will be tough for the Hogs to escape Starkville with a win.
Sam Pittman’s jukebox terminology and Barry Odom’s defensive genius during his tenure at Arkansas were both born in Starkville two seasons ago. I’d suspect we will see more of the three-man rush today, giving the Razorback secondary a better chance of defending the pass. Will Rogers is excelling in the passing game so far this season.
Offensively, the Hogs must dominate on the ground to control the possession arrow and time. It will be interesting to see who has the most pass attempts among Razorback quarterbacks today. Hopefully, KJ has cleared concussion protocol and shocks the Mississippi State defensive staff when he trots onto the field for the first possession. But KJ’s health is the highest priority, and I know Sam Pittman will make the best decision.
Depending on the Arkansas quarterback situation, this game can go a number of ways. Although, I see the Bulldogs’ air raid being too much for the Hogs today.
Final: Mississippi State 30, Arkansas 20
PORTER: Arkansas was already facing an uphill climb going up against a Mississippi State team who threw the ball over 40 times last week against A&M.
Now, with the possibility of being without KJ Jefferson makes the climb straight uphill
. Arkansas will be forced to outscore MSU with their running attack. With the troubles the secondary has struggled with all season, I don’t see Arkansas winning this one.
Mississippi State 42, Arkansas 24
JACOB: Honestly, I’m not sure how this thing is going to go. If KJ Jefferson does play for Arkansas, the Hogs will absolutely have a chance to score and keep up with the Bulldogs scoring.
Under Barry Odom’s guidance, the Razorback defense has seemingly grounded the Air Raid the past two seasons. Will the Hogs’ defensive coordinator pull magic out of his hat?
Arkansas will definitely need creativity from the defensive line. Mainly getting handsy, disrupting timing on short routes and hot reads. If they can keep Rogers in a flux there’s definitely a chance.
The Razorbacks still have a terrific run game. With two of the better run defenses behind them, the Hogs could look “back to normal” of sorts on the ground. Rocket Sanders is the only running back in the SEC to rush for over 600 yards this season. Expect to see his number be called early and often on Saturday. The Hogs will need a huge day from number five if they want to stay in the game with a chance to win.
What I did find interesting is that LSU was able to run for 208 yards in their victory over the Bulldogs in week three. None of the running backs are the same caliber as Sanders is for Arkansas either. Could this be a game changer?
I hate to pick against the Hogs but I think it could still be closer than what Vegas thinks.
FINAL: Mississippi State 45, Arkansas 37