RazorbacksSports

Arkansas Razorback Football Preview

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – While Coach Sam Pittman’s 5-3 Arkansas Razorbacks got much needed rest and recovery during last week’s bye week, the Mississippi State Bulldogs rendered themselves all the more formidable by playing Kentucky last Saturday in Starkville, Miss.

Coach Mike Leach’s Bulldogs, also 5-3 overall but ahead of the Hogs in the SEC West at 3-2 to Arkansas’ 1-3, visit Reynolds Razorback Stadium for Saturday’s 3 p.m. SEC Network televised SEC game.

Last Saturday at their Scott Field the Bulldogs not just upset but dominated nationally No. 12 Kentucky, 31-17.

Because of his innovative past for his “Air Raid” offenses Leach orchestrated as the Oklahoma Sooners offensive coordinator and then head coach at Texas Tech and Washington State, the publicity ink on Leach’s teams tend to the offensive.

Not this time, though.

Even as Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers set a SEC completion rate record (36 of 39 for 92 percent against Kentucky) defense was the dominant story.

Mississippi State scored 14 points off turnovers, the Bulldogs amassed four takeaways, and held Kentucky to just 66 yards rushing.

Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez entered the game leading the SEC averaging 110 yards per game. He netted just 34 against Mississippi State and fumbled once setting up a Mississippi State field goal.

“It’s a big confidence boost knowing that we’re playing our best defense in the middle and towards the end of the season,” Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes said during last Saturday’s postgame in Starkville “Hopefully we can keep that going.”

Last week Pittman practiced the Razorbacks Tuesday through Thursday then gave them Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday afternoon with what typically be a light Monday practice they launched game-week preparations against Mississippi State after getting some prep on the Bulldogs late last week.

Because the NCAA forbids all its teams from practicing this Tuesday so athletes have free time to vote on this Election Day, the Razorbacks Monday will hold their in pads, most physical game-week practice normally held on Tuesdays.

Pittman said the Hogs on Wednesday the Hogs would be back in their normal game-week routine up until Saturday’s kickoff.

The Razorbacks last played on Oct. 23, routing the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 45-3 in a nonconference game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

Though victorious over then No. 12 now 18th-ranked Kentucky and also with SEC victories over currently No. 13 Texas A&M at the Aggies’ Kyle Field in College Station, Texas and Vanderbilt vs. SEC losses to LSU in Starkville, and nationally No. 3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and 2-1 nonconference winning in Starkville over Louisiana Tech and North Carolina State vs. a loss to Memphis in Memphis, Leach’s Bulldogs remain unranked in the AP Top 25 released Sunday though they did receive votes.

Ditto Arkansas, ranked clear up to No. 8 when the Hogs started 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC upsetting Texas A&M, but unranked since the Razorbacks lost their last three SEC games at No. 1 Georgia, at No. 15 Ole Miss and Auburn before winning nonconference over UAPB.

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