Game Day Preview: What you need to know about Arkansas-Mississippi State
Only two games remain and, yes, they still matter for Arkansas and Mississippi State. The Hogs and Dogs are both jockeying for warm-weather bowl games. They’ll want it after Saturday night in Fayetteville, where temperatures are expected to be near freezing at kickoff.
Arkansas enters as one of the hottest teams in the nation, yet the Razorbacks are getting no love from the polls. Arkansas is on a four-game winning streak while Mississippi State limps in off a 31-6 loss to No. 2 Alabama.
Here’s what else you need to know about Saturday’s game:
Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC) at Arkansas (6-4, 4-2 SEC)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Weather: 34 degrees, 0 percent chance of precipitation (weather.com)
Line: Arkansas -4
By the numbers
174.4 — rushing yards per game yielded by the Mississippi State defense. The Arkansas offense averages 203 rushing yards per game.
103 — combined points scored by MSU in the second quarter, almost double what their opponents have scored (53) in that same quarter.
18-2 — the ridiculous touchdown-to-interception ratio by MSU quarterback Dak Prescott.
14 — rushing touchdowns by Arkansas running back Alex Collins. MSU only has 15 as an entire team.
Storylines to watch
Will cold weather affect the game?
The temperature is expected to be 34 degrees at kickoff and drop during the game. Arkansas is built for this weather. It has a mammoth offensive line, and Collins has kicked it into another gear during the last few games. MSU can run the ball, but it’s more pass-oriented. Whichever team can control the ball — and the clock — will have the advantage.
Can Dak Prescott run the ball effectively?
The MSU quarterback has proven to be an effective runner, but this year he’s been even more efficient throwing the ball. But will cold weather force the Bulldogs into more of a power running game? Last week, Arkansas made LSU’s Leonard Fournette look somewhat human during most of the game. Perhaps it will use that same formula to bottle up Prescott when he takes off to run.
Will the Hogs have a letdown?
In its last six games, Arkansas has beaten Tennessee, Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU and UT-Martin, and its lone loss was a heartbreaker to Alabama. Not bad for a team that started 1-3 and was left for dead. The Razorbacks are as hot as any team in the country right now. Is a letdown coming? The Hogs finally return home after a grueling two-game road trip. They’ll be fired up for the home crowd. No letdown here.
Prediction: Arkansas 38, Mississippi State 24
Arkansas will score at will, even in the cold temperatures Saturday. The secret will be to harass MSU quarterback Dak Prescott all evening. The Hogs defense will force bad throws and then confuse him when he tries to run — making Prescott run east and west instead of north and south. This helps bring more defenders.
Arkansas will get its yards and points on the ground, and quarterback Brandon Allen will continue his hot streak with more healthy receivers around him. The Hogs will improve their bowl status and maintain that No. 2 standing in the SEC West. And maybe the pollsters will begin taking notice.