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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 12:21 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Davis Wade Stadium (55,082) -- Starkville, Mississippi. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Arkansas 2-5, MSU 5-1. Away Record: Arkansas 1-1, MSU 2-2. Neutral Record: Arkansas 0-0, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: Arkansas 2-4, MSU 3-3. Series Record: Arkansas leads, 15-6-1.
GAME NOTES: The Mississippi State Bulldogs attempt to put an end to their current three-game slide on Saturday afternoon when they play host to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The 2012 season has not gone according to plan for Arkansas, as it has squandered high preseason expectations by winning just four of its first 10 games. The Razorbacks have lost two of their last three, falling to SEC rivals Ole Miss (30-27) and South Carolina (38-20) to drop to 2-4 in conference play.
Mississippi State got off to a flying start this season with wins in each of its first seven games, but it has dropped three straight decisions all to nationally-ranked opponents to fall out of the Top-25. Despite the Bulldogs' recent struggles, they still have the chance to log a historic season with one more win, as they have finished a campaign with eight wins only 15 times in 112 seasons of competition.
Arkansas won this matchup rather handily last season, 44-17, in Little Rock for its third straight win in the series. Overall, the Hogs hold a 15-6-1 advantage over the Bulldogs all-time.
Arkansas puts up 422.1 ypg, including 302.6 passing yards (19th in the nation), but the big yardage totals haven't equaled excessive points as it ranks 10th in the SEC in scoring at just 25.5 ppg.
Despite missing some time earlier in the season, Tyler Wilson has put together a fine season by completing 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,803 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The signal-caller has struggled since throwing for five TDs against Kentucky on Oct. 13 however, combining for just four TDs and five INTs in his last three games.
With 73 receptions for 1,149 yards, Cobi Hamilton has broken both single- season school records with two games still to play, and he tops the conference in both categories. He is the only player in school history to have four 10- reception games in a career, let alone in the same season.
Dennis Johnson (639 yards, eight TDs) has supplanted Knile Davis (340 yards, two TDs) as the team's primary rusher this season. After back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, Johnson struggled against a stout South Carolina front seven last week (11 carries, 41 yards).
Even though the defense has performed poorly on the scoreboard (30.0 ppg), it ranks 23rd in the nation against the run in allowing 119.7 ypg.
The team only has 11 takeaways, but Ross Rasner (74 tackles, three INTs) has accounted for three of them. Chris Smith is having a productive year behind the line of scrimmage with team-highs in TFL (10), sacks 96.5) and QB hurries (10).
Mississippi State's offense (29.4 ppg) has picked on some vulnerable defenses this season but has not performed well against some of the nation's best teams, combining for just 37 points (12.3 ppg) against Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU.
Considering the strength of LSU's defense, quarterback Tyler Russell put together a very impressive game last week by completing 26-of-38 passes for 295 yards, and touchdown and an interception. His season has been one of the best in school history, as he already ranks third in passing yards (2,249) and first in passing touchdowns (17). He has also been careful with the football, throwing just four picks.
Chad Bumphis (43 receptions, 676 yards) has eight touchdown receptions this year to give him a school-record 20 for this career. Chris Smith (40 receptions, 482 yards, two TDs) has also been a reliable receiver.
LaDarius Perkins (804 yards, eight TDs) has been effective out of the backfield, but he missed the LSU game with an injury. If he is unable to go this week, expect Nick Griffin (11 carries, 38 yards last week) to garner most of the work out of the backfield once again.
The Bulldogs' strong play on defense (21.4 ppg) has been defined by their ability to take the ball away, forcing 22 turnovers while ranking seventh nationally with a plus-12 turnover margin.
Johnthan Banks is on his way to another All-America selection as he has recorded 51 tackles, four interceptions and a fumble recovery, to go along with 10 passes defended. Darius Slay has benefited from Banks' presence with four picks of his own, and Cameron Lawrence has team highs in tackles (87) and sacks (four).
It's been a disappointing stretch for both teams to say the least. Arkansas has the tools to pull off the upset on the road, but its propensity for turning the ball over does not bode well for the team as it goes up against the ball-hawking Bulldogs. Expect MSU to win its first game in nearly a month to improve its postseason prospects.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 38, Arkansas 34
11/14 10:43:40 ET
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