Game Day Preview: What you need to know about Mississippi State-Arkansas
Before the game against Alabama last week, Mississippi State was riding a winning streak and looking hot. A 31-6 loss put an end to both of those statements. Now it’s time to see which SEC team’s lead the Bulldogs will follow. SEC teams are 3-3 after playing Alabama this season — some teams have bounced back, others have slumped. Will the Bulldogs be able to shake the Crimson Tide hangover?
Here’s what else you need to know about Saturday’s game:
Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3 SEC) at Arkansas Razorbacks (6-4, 4-2 SEC)
Kickoff: Sat., Nov. 20, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Weather: 22 degrees, 10 percent chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Arkansas -3.5
By the numbers
0 – The number of times in three tries that Bret Bielema has beaten the Bulldogs: Zero. While history is on the side of Arkansas — Between 1995 and 2011, Mississippi State only won twice, in 1998 and 2008 — Mississippi State is riding a three-game winning streak in the series into Saturday’s game. Arkansas’ last win in the series did come at home, but it was in Little Rock. The teams square off in Fayetteville, Ark. this time.
297 – Mississippi State’s passing attack averages 297 yards per game, good for 21st-best in the nation. Quarterback Dak Prescott’s arm strength is still prolific, and his decision-making has improved drastically. Prescott has thrown for 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Saturday, his team will be facing Arkansas’ poor pass defense, ranked 115th in the country. If Prescott and the Bulldogs can’t exploit that aspect of the game, they will be in trouble.
N/A – Neither team is ranked. Mississippi State fell out of the AP Top 25 and College Football Playoff rankings after losing to Alabama at home last week. But both the Bulldogs and the Razorbacks received votes in this week’s AP poll. With a win tomorrow, either one would have a shot at sneaking back into the rankings next week.
Storylines to watch
Will De’Runnya Wilson play?
There is still no official word on whether star wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson will play against Arkansas. Wilson left the Alabama game due to an injury he sustained in the fourth quarter. Mullen has said Wilson will be fine long term, but the short-term prognosis is still unknown.
How will Malik Dear fair in his first game back?
Freshman running back Malik Dear missed the past two games due to injury, but is ready to go this week. The freshman scored the first touchdown of his career on a 53-yard rush against Texas A&M and has picked up 80 yards rushing and 160 yards through the air this season. If Wilson sits out Saturday, Dear’s performance will be crucial.
Prediction: Arkansas 31, Mississippi State 21
In its past four games, Arkansas has averaged 50 points per game. Mississippi State’s three losses this season have come in games where its opponent has scored more than 20 points. In its wins, the team has held its opponents to just fewer than 15 points per game. The Bulldogs cannot stand toe-to-toe with the Razorbacks in a shootout and in all likelihood, that’s exactly what this game will be.