Rapid Reaction: Chad Morris' hot seat goes nuclear as Mississippi State crushes Arkansas 54-24
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for Chad Morris in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks look completely overwhelmed at home and allow Mississippi State to hang 50 on them for the second consecutive season in a 54-24 defeat.
With the win, Mississippi State improves to 4-5 on the season while Arkansas fell to 2-7 on the year.
Keeping that result in perspective, Mississippi State entered this game on a four-game losing streak and many Starkville natives have been calling for Joe Moorhead’s job. If that’s where many Hail State fans were entering this game, imagine how Razorback fans must be feeling after that one.
The Bulldogs were led by the ground game in this one, as Kylin Hill (234) and Nick Gibson (129) both went over the 100-yard mark in the game. In fact, Mississippi State rushed for over 300 yards in the first half and 460 yards for the game.
Tommy Stevens returned to the starting lineup for the Bulldogs as Garrett Shrader missed this game due to an undisclosed injury. Stevens had a solid game in his return to the field as the season completed 12 of 18 passes for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
One notable absence for the Razorbacks was tight end C.J. O’Grady who was suspended by the team. SEC Network noted O’Grady was held out for “disciplinary” reasons.
The Razorbacks were once again plagued by the issues that followers of the program have begun to expect under Morris — slow starts, a defense that consistently gives up big plays, and seemingly no concrete plan under center. Considering Morris was hired by Arkansas based on his offensive scheme, that last statement is damning.
Ben Hicks started for the Razorbacks, the team’s sixth different starting quarterback changed of the season. Hicks completed 4 of 13 passes for 44 yards. He did not have a touchdown but did have an interception. The interception was returned for a touchdown by Mississippi State. He was then replaced by John Stephen Jones.
The only glimmer of hope came in the fourth quarter when Morris finally made the move Arkansas fans have been begging for and inserted KJ Jefferson into the game. The Razorbacks had only 11 first downs before Jefferson entered the game but the freshman drove over 60 yards in just four plays and scored the first touchdown of his college career.
The first half showing by Arkansas was so bad, it was literally historic for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State’s 38-10 halftime lead is its largest in a road game since 1998 at South Carolina (28-0), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Mississippi State is off next weekend before facing Alabama at home while Arkansas is set to host Western Kentucky next weekend.
Cover image courtesy of Mississippi State athletics