The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Game 11: Mississippi State vs. Arkansas

    After starting their season with an embarrassing home loss to Alabama and a six overtime loss at Tennessee the Arkansas Razorbacks (7-3, 3-3 SEC) have managed to go on a four game winning streak coming into Starville to meet with the steadily struggling Bulldogs of Mississippi State (3-7, 0-6 SEC). Arkansas’ main offensive strategy is very simple … RUN, RUN, and then RUN some more. Arkansas leads the SEC in rushing yards with a 244-yard game average. The Razorbacks rushing game is led by senior running back Fred Talley. Talley averages 6.2-yards a play and has three 100-yard games under his belt including a 241-yard performance in the Razorbacks win over Auburn.
    Sophomore Matt Jones leads Arkansas’ passing attack. Jones is ranked fourth in the SEC with a 134.45 quarterback rating and has thrown 12 touchdowns compared to his five interceptions, but Jones’ strength lies in his legs. He has carried the ball 98 times this season and is the second leading team rusher for Arkansas. Jones has a 5.6-yard average per run and has five touchdowns on his feet. The 6-foot-5-inch Arkansas native has a passing percentage just over 50 percent, but has taken 15 sacks on the season. The Razorbacks only average 138 passing yards a game, which ranks dead last in the SEC. So, the object for the Mississippi State defense is to shutdown Arkansas’ running game and make them look to their struggling passing game.
    Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt had a piece to say on the Bulldogs defense. “Each game Joe Lee [Dunn] will come out with four or five different fronts, and he’ll stick with those four or five. There is always one or two that are a bit different. Once he locks into a game, that’s what he’s going to do. One thing is for sure, he’ll be in cover three or man or both–that’s it, period–as far as secondary coverage.”
    The Hogs offense averages 30 points a game (5th in SEC), while their defense only allows 17 points a game (4th in SEC). Arkansas leads the SEC in turnover ratio with +2. In all of these categories Mississippi State is on the opposite end of the SEC. The Bulldogs only average 19 points a game (11th in SEC), while Joe Lee Dunn’s defense gives up an average of 28 points a contest (11th in SEC). In turnover ratio Mississippi State is dead last in the SEC with –1.20.
    The Arkansas defense has given up more then 28 points in their three losses. So, the object for the Bulldogs on offense is to obviously rack up more then 28 points, something Mississippi State has done only twice this season and none against an SEC opponent.
    Arkansas is 6-0 this season when scoring first in a game. The Hogs are 1-3 when the opponent dents the scoreboard first. In fact, the Razorbacks only victory when the opponent scored first came against Ole Miss. The Rebels took a 2-0 lead, before Arkansas rallied for a 48-28 win.
    Mississippi State could tie up their series with Arkansas with a win tomorrow in Davis-Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs and the Hogs are going into their 13th game in history with Arkansas leading 6-5-1. The Bulldogs lead the series in Scott Field 3-2 with the two Arkansas victories coming in overtime. The Hogs have won the last five of six in the series.
    The Razorbacks and the Bulldogs have built up a rivalry in the past 12 years with all of their games being decided by an average of 5.1 points plus two overtime games and a tie. Since head coach Houston Nutt arrived at Arkansas the Razorbacks have went 3-1 in the last four years verses the Bulldogs, winning by five points (1999) seven points (2000), and three points (2001). The Bulldogs won in 1998 by one point on their way to the SEC championship.
    “Mississippi State is a dangerous football team,” Nutt said. “If you look at the teams that they’ve lost to, they’ve lost to Tennessee, Alabama, LSU–they’ve lost to good teams. It’s real simple to get into the fact that they’re 0-6 in conference. The message that we’ve tried to get through to our team is that every time that we’ve gone to Starkville, Miss., it’s been four quarters or more and about seven points difference in the ball game. So you’ve got your work cut out for you.”
    With a victory at Scott Field this weekend Mississippi State could ruin Arkansas’ hope at another SEC West title combined with an LSU victory over Mississippi in Death Valley.

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    The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
    Game 11: Mississippi State vs. Arkansas