Mississippi State vs. Arkansas preview and prediction

Mississippi State wants to scrap a bowl season together while Arkansas is trying to piece the puzzle back together after a drubbing at the hands of LSU.

Photo by Nateb2003

Davis Wade Stadium shows off its renovations on Aug. 24, 2014. Photo obtained via creativecommons.org, no changes made.

When Mississippi State and Arkansas met last year, the two produced a thrilling game in which the Bulldogs held off the Razorbacks with a blocked field goal in the final minutes of the game to win 51-50.  The teams combined for an entertaining 1110 yards of total offense.

Mississippi State (4-6, 2-4 SEC) is in a far worse position than it was this time last year, and the Bulldogs are just looking to hold onto hope for a bowl game. To accomplish that, they’ll need notch a win over Arkansas and follow it up with a victory in Oxford over Ole Miss. The Bulldogs are fresh off a 51-3 beat down at the hands of No. 1 Alabama last week. In order to get back on track, Mississippi State will have to pull out a big win on the road.

Arkansas (6-4, 2-4 SEC), however, is another team at the bottom half of the SEC West wanting to finish the season strong. The Razorbacks didn’t fair much better last week, losing 38-10 to LSU.

Mississippi State needs to utilize dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald’s mobility to its advantage against an Arkansas defense that has allowed an average of 203.6 yards through the air and 217.6 on the ground per game this season. The Bulldogs could use a Fitzgerald performance similar to the one he displayed against Texas A&M where he threw for 209 yards and ran for 182 yards with four total touchdowns as Mississippi State upset the Aggies in Starkville.

Arkansas also needs a big day from its quarterback. Junior Austin Allen has thrown for 2,501 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season with a completion percentage of just under 61 percent. Allen has put together some good games this season, including a 400-yard, three-touchdown passing performance in a defeat to Alabama as well as passing for 229 yards and three scores to lead the Razorbacks over Ole Miss back in mid-October.

Both teams need to be mentally ready for a another potential fourth-quarter thriller.

Prediction

Although this year’s matchup will not be as high scoring as last year’s, there will still be some good offensive play. Arkansas will take full advantage of playing in front of a home crowd in Fayetteville, which should help its defense give the Mississippi State offense some trouble. The Razorbacks get back to winning with a 31-24 victory over Mississippi State.

Saturday’s kick off between Mississippi State and Arkansas is set for 7:00 p.m. on ESPNU.

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Nateb2003