It is hard to believe that the Mississippi State Bulldogs are headed into Week 10 as they prepare to hit the road this weekend to face the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Mississippi State played what I believe to be their most complete game on Saturday against Kentucky and improved its record to 5-3 on the season and 3-2 in Southeastern Conference play. As hard as it may seem to comprehend, Mississippi State still has a slight chance of making a New Year’s Six bowl game this season. But to actually do that, the Bulldogs must first play one game at a time, and that starts this weekend against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
So, what will Mississippi State face this weekend against Arkansas? First and foremost, a very good defense that ranks fifth in the SEC and 32nd in the country in allowing 334.5 yards per game.
The Razorback offense isn’t bad either, ranking fourth in the SEC and 19th in the nation in averaging 465.2 yards per game. Arkansas currently ranks fourth in the country in rushing by averaging 249 yards on the ground per game. However, the Arkansas passing offense is not currently ranked in the top 50, ranking 85th by averaging 216.2 yards passing per game.
So, what does this mean for a Mississippi State team going on the road into a hostile SEC venue? Well, not a damn thing because Arkansas will face the No. 1 passing offense in the SEC and fifth in the nation. The Bulldogs also boast the fifth best run defense in the county.
The keys to victory against Arkansas will come down to two things. First, Mississippi State must stop the Hogs’ rushing attack and force them to rely on their passing game. Second, the Bulldogs have to continue to control the time of possession and play clean as they did against Kentucky.
If the Bulldogs can do this, I see them walking out with another SEC win this weekend. Also, as a side note, keep the logos on the helmets. I think that is a really cool look and it brings the athletic programs together. With that being said, let’s talk Hail State football with, “The Good, the bad and the Ugly!”
Just about every aspect of the win over Kentucky was good. I mean, quarterback Will Rogers had the best game of his college career, and I believe that he can continue this trend as long as the offensive line gives him the opportunity to do so.
Rogers completed 36 of 39 passes. His 92.3% completion percentage is an SEC record with a minimum of 25 attempts. Rogers also threw for 344 yards and one touchdown. In addition to his completion percentage record, he also broke the Mississippi State single season passing record with 327 completions. That record was previously held by none other than Dak Prescott with 316.
How about those Bulldogs on the defensive side of the ball? I mean, Kentucky was averaging over 190 yards rushing per game until it heard those sweet bells ring true at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday night. The Bulldogs held the Wildcats to just 66 yards rushing and 150 yards through the air.
But the biggest shock of the night was the success the Bulldogs found in the run game. Both Jo’quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson found open space and made the Wildcats pay for it with three rushing touchdowns on the night. The run game to me was one of the major reasons Kentucky could never get anything going on the defensive side of the ball.
In no way did Kentucky think that Mississippi State would be able to produce so much in the run game with the Air Raid offense. I must admit that I was a little shocked!
If that wasn’t enough, the Bulldogs forced four turnovers, three interceptions and one fumble. It was just a dominant night on the defensive side of the ball. In my opinion, this was the best game I have seen the Bulldogs play all around since 2014, and maybe a few times in 2015. It was just a fun game to watch, if you were a Bulldogs fan, of course!
I hate to go here, but it is what it is! The special teams unit didn’t have a very good game. First of all, let’s start with the punt return in the first quarter. Sixteen yards! My daughter can punt the ball 16 yards with glue on her feet! I know it happens, but this was not the first time we have seen some punting issues.
Maybe it was just me, but I know there was at least one missed call for a block in the back, but I’m no SEC official, and wouldn’t want to be in 2021. Either way, that punt return was hard. I couldn’t tell if the Bulldogs were trying to catch the runner or beat him to the end zone, but either way, MSU failed at both. I don’t want to see any of those shenanigans again
After a game like that under the lights at Davis Wade Stadium, there can’t be anything ugly to talk about.
Prediction Week 10:
This will be a much different game than last week. Arkansas can hang around, and the Razorbacks can push teams around. State must control the tempo on both sides of the ball, first by stopping the Razorbacks’ run game and second by controlling the game and the clock on offense. Play clean, limit mistakes and the Bulldogs will win three in a row.
Mississippi State: 41
GOD BLESS, HAIL STATE and GO DAWGS!!!