Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Complete Game Preview

Jacob B.Contributor IIINovember 14, 2012

Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Complete Game Preview

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    The Arkansas Razorbacks travel to Mississippi State this weekend to play the Bulldogs.

    The Hogs are still in the hunt for a bowl game, and need a win this week and against LSU the following week to have any hope of making one.

    The Bulldogs are coming off a difficult three weeks, during which they faced three teams currently in the Top 10. They need a win over SEC competition to stop the bleeding and help close out the season with a strong finish.

    Here is the complete preview to this week’s game.

Game Day Information

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    Who: Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

    When: Saturday, November 17, 12:21 p.m. EST

    Where: Starkville, MS

    Stadium: Davis Wade Stadium (55,082)

    TV: SEC Network

    Radio: KEZA FM 107.9 (Fayetteville, Ark.)

               KABZ FM 103.7 (Little Rock, Ark.)

               WXWX FM 96.3 (Tupelo, MS)

               WZNO FM 105.9 (Jackson, MS)

Arkansas Depth Chart: Offense

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    QB: Tyler Wilson, Brandon Allen

    RB: Dennis Johnson, Knile Davis

    WR: Cobi Hamilton, Javontee Herndon

    WR: Julian Horton, Brandon Mitchell

    WR: Mekale McKay, Demetrius Wilson

    TE: Chris Gragg, Austin Tate

    OT: David Hurd, Chris Stringer

    OG: Tyler Deacon, Luke Charpentier

    C: Travis Swanson, Mitch Smothers

    OG: Alvin Bailey, Luke Charpentier

    OT: Jason Peacock, Brey Cook

    FB: Morgan Linton, Jonathan Williams

    K: Zach Hocker, John Henson

Arkansas Depth Chart: Defense

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    DE: Trey Flowers, Austin Flynn

    DT: Alfred Davis, Jared Green

    DT: Byran Jones, Robert Thomas

    DE: Chris Smith, Colton Miles-Nash

    OLB: A.J. Turner, Jarrett Lake

    MLB: Otha Peters, Braylon Mitchell

    STAR: Ross Rasner, Kaelon Kelleybrew

    CB: Tevin Mitchel, Davyon McKinney

    S: Eric Bennett, Jerry Mitchell

    S: Rohan Gaines, Alan Turner

    CB: Will Hines, Darius Winston

Mississippi State Depth Chart: Offense

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    QB: Tyler Russell, Dak Prescott

    WR: Arceto Clark, Joe Morrow

    WR: Chad Bumphis, Jameon Lewis

    WR: Chris Smith, Brandon Heavens

    LT: Blaine Clausell, Archie Muniz

    LG: Gabe Jackson, Ben Beckwith

    C: Dillon Day, Dylan Holley

    RG: Tobias Smith, Justin Malone

    RT: Charles Siddoway, Damien Robinson

    TE: Marcus Green, Malcolm Johnson

    FB: Sylvester Hemphill, Adrian Marcus

    RB: Ladarius Perkins, Nick Griffin

Mississippi State Depth Chart: Defense

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    DE: Kaleb Eulls, Preston Smith

    DT: Josh Boyd, P.J. Jones

    DT: Curtis Virges, Dewayne Cherrington

    DE: Denico Autry, Shane McCardell

    LB: Deontae Skinner, Chris Hughes

    LB: Benardrick McKinney, Ferlando Bohanna

    LB: Cameron Lawrence, Matthew Wells

    CB: Johnthan Banks, Jamerson Love

    SS: Corey Broomfield, Jay Hughes

    FS: Nickoe Whitley, Dee Arrington

    CB: Darius Slay, Taveze Calhoun

What Happened in Arkansas’s Last Game?

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    Arkansas faced No. 8 South Carolina in Columbia where its troubles this season continued.

    Tyler Wilson threw for 277 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Hogs’ offensive line allowed him to be sacked five times.

    Dennis Johnson struggled with the South Carolina defense, rushing for 41 yards over 11 carries. Freshman running back and future impact player for the Razorbacks Jonathan Williams had his most rushing yards of the season with 61.

    The Razorbacks also made a bit of history of their own.

    Cobi Hamilton broke the school record for receptions at 73 and receiving yards at 1,149. Tyler Wilson set a new school record for completions at 539. Kicker Zach Hocker is now the school record holder for points by a kicker with 285.   

What Happened in Mississippi State’s Last Game?

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    Mississippi State added to their losing streak by losing 37-17 at LSU.

    The Bulldogs struggled to establish any kind of a running game and were held to 47 rushing yards by the Tigers.

    Quarterback Tyler Russell passed for 295 yards, his best so far this season.

    Mississippi State had three more possessions than the Tigers, but failed to capitalize on the opportunities, one of which resulted in an interception at the LSU 0 that was returned 100 yards for an LSU touchdown. 

What It Means for Both Teams

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    Arkansas is looking to improve on their mental mistakes from its game against South Carolina. Once again this season, the Razorbacks were their own worst enemies with turnovers, missed tackles and a failure to protect the quarterback.

    Arkansas still has the possibility of earning a spot in a bowl game, but will need to win its last two games against Mississippi State and LSU to have any kind of chance. A win against Mississippi State would create some forward momentum going into the Battle for the Boot against LSU.

    Mississippi State has had a tough schedule the last three weeks, losing to Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU. The Bulldogs will be looking to get another win before having to face rival Ole Miss in the last game of the season. 

Key Player for Arkansas

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    Tyler Wilson

    Tyler Wilson will be the key player for Arkansas again this week. He will still be missing one of his favorite targets in tight end Chris Gragg. He will have to find a way to find receivers in tight coverage and take the hits he has been taking all season.

    Mississippi State ranks lower than Arkansas in rushing defense. There may be an opportunity for Dennis Johnson to find his feet again and come back from a lackluster performance against South Carolina.

    But if he doesn’t, the majority of Arkansas’s offense will once again rely on the play making skills of Tyler Wilson and receiver Cobi Hamilton.

Key Player for Mississippi State

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    Tyler Russell

    Mississippi State only has 260 more rushing yards than the Razorbacks this season. Arkansas also ranks higher in the SEC in rushing defense than the Bulldogs.

    The Bulldogs’ best bet will be their passing game.

    Tyler Russell has a 60.5 percent completion rate on the season and 17 touchdowns.

    Tyler Wilson has a 60.9 percent completion rate, and 18 touchdowns. He beats Russell in almost every stat, but not by much.

    Russell’s main focus will be on avoiding interceptions. He has only thrown four this season, but he has one in each of the Bull Dogs’ losses this season.

    If Mississippi State can rely on Russell to keep the ball out of the hands of an Arkansas defender, it will increase its chances of snapping its losing streak.

Arkansas Will Win If…

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    They Do the Little Things

    Arkansas has been its own worst enemy all year. Whether it is improper tackles or not protecting the quarterback, the ultimate failure of this season is the inability to play fundamental football. This is to be blamed on the coaching staff.

    Arkansas will win if it can figure out how to correct the same mistakes they have been making all season.

    That sounds simple and basic, but the performance against South Carolina last week demonstrates that, for this team and this coaching staff, it’s not. 

Mississippi State Will Win If...

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    They Exploit Arkansas’s Passing Defense

    When we look back on the end of this season, we’ll point to Arkansas’s passing defense as the main reason it didn’t win more games.

    Arkansas does not rank too badly in stopping the run, but ranks last in the SEC in passing defense. And that is what could cost them this game.

Prediction

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    Mississippi State is a 6.5-point favorite over Arkansas. The game is at home, and the Bulldogs have had some tough losses in recent weeks. They also haven’t beaten Arkansas since 2008. They will be out for blood.

    And unless something drastic has changed in Arkansas’s passing defense, this week they’ll get it.

    Mississippi State wins 24-12.