FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas gets back on the field Saturday when they play host to Mississippi State for homecoming.
Both teams have fallen on hard times in recent weeks. Mississippi State has lost its last four while the Hogs has been defeated in five straight. One of the two will end a long losing streak on Saturday and have a chance to gain momentum the remainder of November.
Counting Mississippi State, Arkansas will play three of its four games in November inside the state. They will host Western Kentucky on Nov. 9 and then get a bye week. On Nov. 23 they will be at LSU and then close it out on Nov. 29 in Little Rock against Missouri.
Arkansas has circled this Mississippi State game for awhile after getting blown out in Starkville 52-6 last fall. The Bulldogs outscored Arkansas 35-3 in the second half. Mississippi State scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Did they try to run the score up on the Hogs?
“It is kind of a revenge deal,” Arkansas’ T.J. Smith said. “They ran it up on us. Coach (Chad Morrs) was talking about it…throwing the ball at the end of the game when they were up. So we are going out there, excited to play against these guys. We want to get off to a fast start and have a good game against these guys.”
Morris was asked on Wednesday about the Bulldogs running up the score last fall.
“Well, you know … they were calling ball plays and we left the guy open and he scored,” Morris said. “I’m just worried about us and how we prepare and how we are going to play.”
Hotseat.com has Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead No. 1 on its list and Morris No. 2. Morris was asked his thoughts about that?
“Oh well, you can’t control what other people say and that’s the least of my worries,” Morris said. “My worries are making sure that this football team continues to get better every day.”
So what will happen on Saturday? Mississippi State has some weapons that could cause the Arkansas defense some issues. Running back Kylin Hill leads the SEC with 793 yards rushing on 155 carries. He has scored six touchdowns. Quarterback Garrett Shrader is a dual-threat. He is second on team in rushing with 92 carries for 504 yards and three touchdowns. He has completed 75 of 136 passes for 1,022 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
Shrader has three starts at quarterback and has played in seven of their eight games. Tommy Stevens has started five games and completed 43 of 69 passes for 515 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions.
Teams are averaging 31 points per game against the Bulldogs so their defense isn’t as powerful this season. Teams have rushed for 159.1 yards per game and passed for 243.1 against the Bulldogs.
In my opinion this is the swing game for the remainder of Arkansas’ season. If they win it then they finish 5-7. I think they will beat Western Kentucky and Missouri if they beat Mississippi State. A win on Saturday would provide them some confidence to finish out the season.
A loss to the Bulldogs could be devastating to the Hogs. That could start an end of season slide like last year. The coaches will do everything they can if Arkansas loses on Saturday to keep the team up and prepare it for the final three games, but the confidence level could go way down for the Hogs.
Arkansas not only got blown out in the second half in Starkville last season they went to Missouri the following Friday and never looked as if they were in the game.
The good thing for Arkansas is if they can win the next two games, regardless of what happens against LSU, the Missouri team that comes to Little Rock could have a similar mental outlook to that game the Hogs had in Columbia last year.
Missouri can’t go to a bowl game in 2019 and hasn’t won a game away from Columbia this season. The lost to Vanderbilt one week after the Commodores were blown out by a bad UNLV team. Missouri has a bye this week then goes to Georgia before getting Florida and an improving Tennessee at home. It wouldn’t be a shocker if the Tigers didn’t win another game this season.
Western Kentucky and Ty Storey will roll into Fayetteville ready to try and duplicate what San Jose State did earlier this fall. Storey was a talented four-star quarterback at Charleston High School who was at Arkansas four years. He’s a grad transfer at Western Kentucky this season.
Western Kentucky started the season 1-2 including a loss to UCA. Storey didn’t play in those games. He has now started five games in a row and the team is now 5-3.
Arkansas should beat Western Kentucky, but then again it may go back to the mental state of the team following Saturday’s game.
Once again, if Arkansas beats Mississippi State, they will finish the season 5-7 which makes the San Jose State loss loom even bigger. If the Hogs lose this Saturday, it becomes a legitimate question of do they win another game in 2019?