Instant Overreactions: Mississippi State 24, Arkansas 17

Wesley Hitt

MSU’s first win in the Natural State was a weird one. But it’s a win. And it keeps the team alive for a bowl game.

I tried to keep notes during the game to prepare for my post-game rant, but I just ended up with a bunch of short phrases like, "JR is good," "holy crap, a field goal," and "MILTONNNNNN!!!! NOOOO!" So while I can't promise astute analysis, I can offer you unbridled enthusiasm.

(1) What a strange game. Big plays, colossal whifs, gorgeous drives, dreadful red zone play, missed tackles, turnovers (for better and worse), overtime, and predictable field goal face palms. Just when one team had momentum or the flow of the game felt as though it was shifting in a particular direction, something great, terrible, or bizarre happened. Neither team was unaffected by this, but the three phases of State’s game were downright schizophrenic. Our offense’s play looked outstanding and unstoppable in spurts, only to turn into a dysfunctional mess in the red zone. The defense would stuff the run and the pass at will, and then have a series where it was straight-up bullied from start to finish. And the special teams got us an early field goal and turnover, only to, well, you know, do its normal thing later in the game. (One out of three on field goals? What the hell, Mullen?) It was a weird day in Little Rock.

(2) Josh Robinson continues to demonstrate his manliness. 101 yards at 5.9 yards per carry. Great game from him today. It’s been clear for weeks (if not longer) that Robinson should be our starting back. (That said, Perkins’ touchdown effort was awesome. I hope his injury wasn’t severe.) On a related note, anyone know why we didn’t see Robinson in the first half? Maybe a disciplinary issue? Seeing Milton on the goal line—even before the fumble—was baffling. (And speaking of manly displays, shout out to Robert Johnson. Dude’s a beast. Solid stuff, man, solid stuff.)

(3) The aforementioned big plays were huge, especially Nickoe’s red-zone thievery. Saved a TD and gave us a chance to take the game. He’s had his share of blunders this year, so it was good to see him make a difference today. (And props to Damian Williams on the OT touchdown. Another big play that was massive. Well done.)

(5) Defense was more of a mixed bag than I would’ve liked, especially after its effort in the Alabama game. I thought the zone coverage was soft at times, and our line got pushed around on certain drives. We held them close to their season averages in points and total offense, but I think I was expecting a more dominant showing.

(6) Am I the only geek who enjoys the Game of Thrones and Monty Python interludes during the games this year?

(7) Egg Bowl. In Starkville. Thanksgiving night. Post-season play on the line. We may be one-deep at QB. Game on.

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