Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Complete Game Preview
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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?
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
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
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
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…
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...
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.
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.