The Mississippi State Bulldogs host the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday. While Arkansas has had a difficult season in 2012, the Bulldogs have a chance to make a strong run at a major bowl game.
Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3) started the season with seven consecutive wins, rising to No. 11 in the national rankings. Then they started playing the heart of their SEC schedule and reality set in.
Arkansas (4-6, 2-4) still has the potential to be bowl eligible, but they'd need to win on Saturday and follow that up with a victory over No. 7 LSU. The Bulldogs need a pair of wins to possibly secure the SEC's seventh-seed for bowl pairings.
Both teams are focused on Saturday, though, and here are the details you need about the matchup.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 12:21 p.m. ET
Where: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.
Watch: SEC Network
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Lines (via OdddsShark)
Spread: Mississippi State -6
The Bulldogs have performed close to expectations this season and are 5-5 against the spread. Arkansas, on the other hand, hasn't performed as well as expected, and is just 2-8.
Bettors should expect that figure to reach 2-9.
Mississippi State has a fairly good defense, but will be challenged to stop Arkansas' passing game.
This game features two teams that can move the ball and score points. One of the defenses is solid (28th in points allowed), but the other is lacking (80th overall).
Arkansas has the better offense but is facing the tougher defensive unit. Mississippi State's middling offense will face a weak defense.
This combination just begs for the over.
Injury Report (USA TODAY as of Nov. 15 at 7:00 p.m. ET)
Knile Davis, RB, Questionable (Hamstring)
Chris Gragg, TE, Doubtful (Knee)
Terrell Williams, LB, Out (Suspension, DUI Arrest)
Brandon Mitchell, QB, Out until Nov. 23 (Suspension)
Alonzo Highsmith, LB, Out for Season (Foot)
Tenarius Wright, DE, Out for Season (Shoulder)
Kiero Small, FB, Out for Season (Foot)
LaDarius Perkins, RB, Probable (Quadricep)
Ferlando Bohanna, LB, Questionable (Groin)
Arkansas failed to live up to expectations this season despite sporting one of the best passers in College Football. The team is playing out the regular season and looking at changes needed for 2013.
Mississippi State won't be getting attention for BCS bowl bids, but is a consideration for a January 1 game. Depending on at-large SEC bids to BCS matches, the Bulldogs could land in the Gator Bowl.
I'm told reps from the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Liberty Bowl will attend Saturday's Arkansas-Mississippi State game.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) November 15, 2012
They might also play in the Music City Bowl on December 31 with a pair of wins.
Keys for Arkansas Victory
Tyler Wilson needs to take over this game and take care of the football. He's thrown interceptions in pairs this season, and a fifth multiple-turnover game will doom his team.
Wilson will have his last real opportunity to impress scouts prior to the offseason schedule. He faces a tough LSU defense to end the season, and would like to have a statement game for teams to consider.
What better way to do so than with an upset road win?
Keys for Mississippi State Victory
I see this as an offensive battle of two teams that aren't really known for running the ball. Mississippi State has a decent runner in LaDarius Perkins (804 YDS, 5.3 YPA, 8 TDs), but Tyler Russell is the key to the offense.
The junior signal-caller has 2,249 yards with a 60.5 completion percentage. He's added 17 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
The top SEC teams haven't been kind to Russell or his offense, though. He's thrown three interceptions with just a pair of touchdowns over the last three games.
But Arkansas' defense isn't in the same field as Alabama or LSU.
Russell had at least two touchdowns in six of his first seven games. Look for him to be back up to his old tricks this week.
As much as I like what Wilson brings to Arkansas' offense, there just isn't enough around him at Arkansas...especially if Davis can't play. The Razorbacks have disappointing losses to Louisiana-Monroe, Rutgers and Ole Miss this season.
The Bulldogs have won the games they should and were at least respectable against elite SEC teams. Their offense will be able to score on a sub-par Arkansas defense and hold off a late charge from Wilson.
Predicted Score: Mississippi State 38, Arkansas 31
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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