Inside the Numbers: Can Arkansas find first SEC win?
Arkansas beat UAB handily last week, and now turns its attention to a stiff test as the Hogs travel to Starkville to face No. 1 Mississippi State.
We dig into the good and bad numbers after Arkansas’ first eight games of the 2014 season.
39: The percentage Arkansas is holding opponents to on third down. The Hogs’ defense played well last week against UAB, but it will be key this week for Arkansas to get off the field on third downs and not allow Dak Prescott and company more chances offensively.
+1: The Hogs are losing the turnover margin on the season to its opponents. It’s critical that Arkansas not turn the football over Saturday night in Starkville. Turnovers at key times have erased fourth-quarter Razorback leads against top 10 teams. Arkansas will need every possession it has against Mississippi State, and protecting the football will ensure Arkansas has a chance to find themselves in the game in the second half.
4/33: The number of interceptions and pass breakups Arkansas has registered. The secondary has been the issue for Robb Smith’s defense this season, with a lot of youth in the defensive backfield. Mississippi State possesses a lot of firepower on the perimeter of the field, highlighted by receivers Jameon Lewis and De’Runnya Wilson. Arkansas’ secondary will need to play big on Saturday night to keep those targets in check.
1: Mississippi State’s ranking. The Bulldogs are the consensus No. 1 team in the country, and Bret Bielema looks to go into Starkville and not only earn his first conference win at Arkansas, but to crash Mississippi State’s season. The Razorbacks are 4-16 all-time against top-ranked teams, and have faced the nation’s No. 1 team in each of the last five seasons.
0: The number of wins in SEC play Arkansas has under Bret Bielema. That goose egg has the ability to be a mental block for an inexperienced team that hasn’t learned how to win yet. Especially having had chances to win games this season, if Arkansas finds itself in the game late, can it find a way to get over the hump?
9.3: The average number of yards the Razorbacks are averaging per punt return. Bielema said this week that the punt return job had been reopened and that freshman D.J. Dean would have to work to keep his job. Field position could play a huge role in the ballgame.