FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is the underdog on Saturday and there’s a chance quarterback KJ Jefferson doesn’t play.

Sam Pittman has beaten Mike Leach and the Bulldogs in both meetings thus far. To make it three in a row will take a great effort by the Hogs. Of course that was same feeling in 2020 after Mississippi State had just opened the season by beating defending national champion LSU. Arkansas went to Starkville having only won one SEC game in three years and downed the Bulldogs 21-14.

Here’s five keys for Arkansas to once again get a win in Starkville.

Keep the Receivers in front of Them

Make the Bulldogs earn everything they get. Will Rogers gets rid of the ball very quickly so it will be hard to get sacks. But Rogers getting rid of the ball quickly means the Hogs should be able to keep the receivers in front of them and not behind them for easy touchdowns. But that also means the Hogs have to tackle extremely well, They can’t let 10-yard passes turn into long touchdowns. Tackle well, but that is something the Hogs haven’t done a very good job of the majority of the time this season.

Cut out Turnovers, Penalties

The Hogs simply can’t have a lot of penalties and if they turn the ball over it could get ugly on Saturday. Arkansas has cut back on its turnovers, but have had some at very critical times even after cutting back. The KJ Jefferson fumble at the Texas A&M two and then Rashod Dubinion had a good run into Alabama territory on Saturday and then fumbled. Cut out the turnovers and limit the penalties.

Get the Wide Receivers Involved

Particularly if Jefferson can’t play, the other Arkansas quarterbacks have to be able to pass the football. Get Jadon Haselwood, Matt Landers, Ketron Jackson, Trey Knox and Warren Thompson if he is able to play involved. The Hogs can’t be one-dimensional on offense no matter who is the quarterback. Cade Fortin was 4 of 10 passing for 35 yards last week. The Hogs ended up passing for 195 yards against the Tide. Fortin and Malik Hornsby can’t just rely on Rocket Sanders, AJ Green and the running game.

Don’t Leave Points on the Field

Assuming Jefferson doesn’t play points will be hard to come by. That is why when the Hogs get down in Mississippi State territory they have to get at least a field goal. Cam Little didn’t miss against Alabama and that is what needs to happen on Saturday. Of course the Hogs need to get touchdowns instead of field goals. That is a no-brainer, but if they can’t punch it into the end zone they need points. They can’t have wasted opportunities on the Mississippi State end of the field. If Jefferson can’t play the opportunities on that end of the field may not be that many so Razorbacks have to make most of them.

Avoid Disaster in First Quarter

Mississippi State has outscored its opponents 52-7 in the first quarter of games this season. With or without Jefferson, the Hogs can’t dig themselves a hole for the second week in a row. They were down 28-0 to Alabama last week before they finally got something going offensively. If Bulldogs get early momentum they will be in control of the game being at home with the cowbells ringing loud and clear.