MSU football: An early look at Arkansas and a couple of possible advantages to exploit
Following what I consider the biggest win of the season, Mississippi State looks to keep the train rollin’ against Arkansas in Fayetteville this weekend.
Against Kentucky, the Bulldogs built off progress we’ve seen all season and put it all together after a slow start in a way that suggests that the future is bright but also that they could still make some noise this year.
Will Rogers completed 36-of-39 pass attempts and once again topped 300 yards in the air. He added 1 touchdown pass of 25 yards to Rara Thomas to ice the game.
The defense rallied when arguably their best player, Martin Emerson, was disqualified after committing a targeting foul in the first quarter. Emerson was the reason I thought that the Bulldogs would win the game. So, when he was out, I was worried. The Bulldogs, however, were not.
After beating Kentucky, the Bulldogs climbed to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the conference. They are also receiving votes in the AP poll and are unofficially ranked 29th in the country.
The Bulldogs are 3-1 in their past 4 games, including their 2 biggest wins of the season over Texas A&M and most recently, Kentucky. In that time, they also got their most lopsided win of the year over Vanderbilt, but also suffered their worst defeat against Alabama.
Now, MSU will look north. Let’s take a quick look at the Razorbacks.
Arkansas also is 5-3, but is just 1-3 in the SEC. Both lost to Alabama and beat Texas A&M.
You could even argue that they have similar nonconference wins with Arkansas beating up Texas and Mississippi State handling NC State, as I am not convinced that Texas is better than NC State.
Arkansas is coming off of a bye, but in their previous 4 games, the Hogs won only once against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The 3 losses were to ranked Georgia, Ole Miss and Auburn, respectively. No shame there.
Their game against Ole Miss was a classic, as it always seems to be. The Razorback and the Rebels couldn’t stop one another. In the waning seconds, the Hogs scored a TD. Instead of kicking the tying PAT, coach Sam Pittman decided to go for the win. The pass was incomplete and Ole Miss escaped, 52-51.
Outside of that shootout, Arkansas is known for defense and running the football under Pittman. The Arkansas quarterback, KJ Jefferson is a dual-threat who reminds some of the fellas on TV of Cam Newton. He’s huge, smart and can absolutely spin the rock. He’ll be in the Heisman conversation at some point down the road.
The Razorbacks also have perhaps the best wide receivers in college football. Treylon Burks was an enormous recruit and he will be selected early in the 2022 NFL Draft should he choose to leave school early.
Unlike last week, I have an initial read on this game. I suspect that the Bulldogs will roll. And by roll, I mean the Bulldogs will win by about 6.
My only trepidation is that the wise guys believe that the Razorbacks will win by about 6. I don’t know why, but I am starting to suspect that people just aren’t paying attention to the Bulldogs’ defense.
If you consider yourself a real football nerd, the Martin Emerson vs. Treylon Burks matchup will be excellent and will be on NFL Draft highlight footage all spring long.
As far as the game is concerned, it will just be enjoyable to watch a couple of heavyweights throw down like that.
As for the Bulldogs, they’ll need to watch Ole Miss film and try to build on the underneath attack that the Rebels employed. MSU quarterback, Will Rogers II will need to continue his willingness to play boring and keep the game in front of him. We’ll preview the matchup in-depth later in the week.