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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000) -- Fayetteville, Arkansas. Television: FSN. Home Record: Kentucky 1-3, Arkansas 1-3. Away Record: Kentucky 0-2, Arkansas 1-1. Neutral Record: Kentucky 0-0, Arkansas 0-0. Conference Record: Kentucky 0-3, Arkansas 1-2. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 4-2.
GAME NOTES: After a disastrous start to the season, the Arkansas Razorbacks will try to win back-to-back games for the first time when they play host to the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night.
Kentucky's season has not gone according to plan either, having notched just a single win in six chances. After winning at home against Kent State on Sept. 8, the Wildcats have lost four in a row. Their schedule has been brutal, with the last three games coming against undefeated teams in Florida (38-0), South Carolina (38-17) and Mississippi State (27-14).
Arkansas started the year ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll, but following a Sept. 8 home loss to ULM (34-31) it promptly dropped out of the Top-25. That loss snowballed into three more defeats at the hands of Alabama (52-0), Rutgers (35-26) and Texas A&M (58-10). The Razorbacks finally halted the slide last Saturday with a conference win at Auburn (24-7).
Kentucky leads the all-time series with Arkansas, 4-2. The teams haven't met since 2008, when the Wildcats won at home in a 21-20 final.
After scoring a 92 total points in its first three games, Kentucky's offense has sputtered against top-flight competition in its last three outings, scoring a combined 31 points against Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi State.
The state of the quarterback position certainly has not helped matters. Maxwell Smith (103-of-150, 975 yards, eight TDs, four INTs) went down with an ankle injury two weeks ago. Freshman Patrick Towles started against MSU and looked great (5-of-6, 71 yards, TD) before having to leave with a high-ankle sprain. Head coach Joker Phillips has deemed him week-to-week. Jalen Whitlow has played poorly (23-of-50, 199 yards, two INTs), but he will get the start against Arkansas.
La'Rod King leads with team with 30 receptions, 290 yards and three touchdowns, but he hasn't made many big plays. In fact, none of the Wildcats' top-10 receivers average more than 11 yards per catch. DeMarcus Sweat (80 yards) has just three grabs, but he has gotten lose for a pair of long touchdowns.
Since rushing for 115 yards against Kent State, Raymond Sanders (303 yards, two TDs) hasn't topped 60 yards in any game. Jonathan George (192 yards, three TDs) had just 10 yards on 10 carries last week.
The poor offense hasn't given the defense many breaks, as the allows 396 ypg and ranks 13th in the SEC in scoring defense (30.2 ppg).
Linebacker Avery Williamson is one of the league's top tacklers with 64, and he has one of the team's two interceptions as well. Alvin Dupree anchors a solid defensive line with 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Arkansas expected to have a national-championship caliber offense, but through six games it is averaging a meager 23.3 ppg.
Tyler Wilson throws for 317 yards per game and he has tossed nine touchdown passes, but his efficiency is way down as he is completing just 57.6 percent of his throws compared to 63.2 percent last season. He has also thrown five interceptions after throwing only six in all of 2011.
Thanks in part to an SEC-record setting 303 yards a few weeks ago against Rutgers, Cobi Hamilton is the conference's leading receiver with 36 catches for 663 yards, and he also has four touchdowns.
Knile Davis has recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2011 season, but he has struggled mightily with just 269 yards on 85 carries (3.2 ypc). Dennis Johnson has helped pick up the slack with 246 yards and three scores.
The Razorbacks defense has been dreadful through the first half of the season (35 ppg, 478.7 ypg), but they are coming off a promising performance against Auburn. The unit collected eight sacks in the win, the most the team has had in a single game since 2000.
Trey Flowers contributed 3.5 sacks last week en route to being named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week.
Alonzo Highsmith has a team-leading 54 tackles and Ross Rasner has a pair of interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Clearly, Arkansas has endured some growing pains under new head coach John L. Smith and while one win will not cure all of its troubles, it showed enough signs of life last week to feel good about defeating an under-performing team with serious quarterback issues at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas 34, Kentucky 17
10/10 10:34:32 ET
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