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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 12:21 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: War Memorial Stadium (54,120) -- Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: MSU 4-2, Arkansas 3-3. Away Record: MSU 0-4, Arkansas 0-4. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, Arkansas 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 1-5, Arkansas 0-6. Series Record: Arkansas leads, 15-7-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling SEC squads will try to halt lengthy losing streaks on Saturday afternoon, as the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Arkansas Razorbacks square off at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Mississippi State put forth an impressive effort last Saturday against No. 1 Alabama but still fell on the wrong end of a 20-7 final to lose its third straight game. The Bulldogs are just 4-6 overall and 1-5 in the SEC, and unless they can win both of their final two games, they will be on the outside looking in come bowl season for the first time since 2009.
Arkansas is one of the few teams in the SEC that has had it worse than MSU this season, as it sits alone in last place of the Western Division at 0-6. The Razorbacks have dropped seven in a row since starting the season a promising 3-0, including a 34-24 loss at Ole Miss in their last game on Nov. 9.
Mississippi State made easy work of the Razorbacks last season in Starkville, 45-14, but Arkansas still has a 15-7-1 advantage in the all-time series.
The Bulldogs have a modest offensive attack this season with 27.5 points and 433.0 yards per game, but in a loaded SEC both figures rank in the lower half of the league standings. Not surprisingly, the unit was stifled against the stout Crimson Tide defense last week, totaling just 197 yards.
While facing Alabama certainly didn't help, the offense wasn't at full strength without Dak Prescott (1,542 passing yards, 722 rushing yards, 17 TDs), who sat out with an elbow injury. Tyler Russell's performance last week was uninspired (15-of-24, 144 yards, INT) and he had to leave in the fourth quarter after hurting his shoulder. With both Prescott and Russell listed as questionable, freshman Damian Williams (11-of-23, 152 yards, INT) could be in line for his first career start.
Jameon Lewis is the team's top playmaker, as he has picked up plenty of yardage receiving (541), rushing (117) and as a kick returner (419), while scoring 10 total touchdowns. The Bulldogs could even turn to Lewis' arm if their quarterback situation remains dire. He has completed all three of his pass attempts this season for 84 yards and three scores.
Without Prescott, MSU's rushing attack lacks explosion. Ladarius Perkins is the top tailback, gaining 458 yards and two touchdowns on 106 carries.
Defensively, the Bulldogs have held firm, allowing just 26.5 points per game, and the unit shined against Alabama last week by forcing A.J. McCarron into just his third-career multi-interception game.
Benardrick McKinney has a team-high 58 tackles to go with a pair of fumble recoveries, while Nickoe Whitley, Jamerson Love and Taveze Calhoun have all picked off multiple passes. MSU's defense does not get after the quarterback very well, as it has recorded just 14 sacks, with no player registering more than 2.5.
The Razorbacks offense has been grounded all season long, as the unit ranks 13th in the SEC in scoring with just 20.4 points per game. The 24 points they put up in their latest outing was the most its has scored since September, although it was anything but an impressive performance as they converted just 3-of-12 third-down attempts.
The team's strength comes in the backfield with a two-man tailback committee who are both ranked in the top-10 in the conference. Alex Collins has picked up 946 yards, and Jonathan Williams 783 yards, while both have rushed for four touchdowns.
Even with the support of two strong running backs, Brandon Allen has had a forgettable season under center. He is completing just 46.7 percent of his passes for 1,260 yards, with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Javontee Herndon paces the receiving corps with 28 catches, 411 yards and four touchdowns.
Granted, the UA defense has not been helped by the position the lackluster offense puts it in on a regular basis, but the unit has nonetheless performed poorly, allowing 31.4 points per game while creating a mere 10 takeaways.
Chris Smith (10.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks) and Trey Flowers (10.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, three FF, INT) anchor an impressive defensive line. Alan Turner and Braylon Mitchell have logged 70 tackles each, while Mitchell has one of the team's six interceptions.
If the Razorbacks want to put another notch in the win column before the season is out, they better do it in this matchup as the prospects of beating LSU in Baton Rouge on Nov. 29 seem rather unlikely. The Bulldogs will have an uphill climb in this one if both of their experienced quarterbacks can't suit up, but if either Prescott or Russell are healthy enough to play, they should be able to generate enough offense to outlast the hapless Hogs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 24, Arkansas 21
11/20 10:43:10 ET
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