Arkansas Still in Top 25 after Loss to Rebels

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE –  The Associated Press football voters apparently recognize a classic when they see one.

So after the Ole Miss Rebels’ 52-51 down to a time expired thwarted 2-point conversion victory over Arkansas Saturday in Oxford, Miss., the voters Sunday simply traded places for the Rebels and Razorbacks.

Coach Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks dropped only from 13th to 17th while Coach Lane Kiffin’s Rebels advanced from 17th to 13th.

The previous week the voters recognized the Razorbacks and Rebels as still good teams routed by great ones. Arkansas now 4-2 overall/ 1-2 in the SEC heading into Saturday’s CBS televised 11 a.m. homecoming game against the Auburn Tigers at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, only dropped from eighth to 13th though routed by then No. 2  now now No. 1 Georgia in Athens, Ala.

Ole Miss only dropped from 12th to 17th though beaten 42-21 after a down 35-0 start by then No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

No. 17 Arkansas is the highest ranked two loss team in Sunday’s AP poll. Only fellow SEC members Florida, 20th and 4-2, and the Texas A&M Aggies, 21st and 4-2, join Arkansas among 2-loss teams in the Top 25.

Remember, beating the then No. 7 Aggies shot Arkansas’ rise into the Top 10 and started A&M falling to unranked until they stunned Alabama, 41-38 Saturday night in College Station, Texas.

Auburn, now 3-2 after flattened 34-10 last Saturday by Georgia, is the top vote getter beyond those voted into AP’s Top 25.

The Hogs of second-year Coach Pittman positively answered questions posed after they were marched upon in Georgia.

Would they mentally bounce back?

Obviously, yes.

Would they curb the 13 penalties committed in Athens and in their season-opener against Rice?

Yes, they would only charged with four. Though if caught, their 2-point conversion pass would have been recalled by an ineligible receiver downfield penalty.

Other than Cam Little missing wide on a field goal – and remember 50 yards is hardly a chip shot – the Razorbacks special teams performed without the special teams problems vexing them in Athens.

Offensively, while Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral drew deserved praise for a performance keeping his Heisman Trophy candidacy aloft, KJ Jefferson performed just as well if not better. Jefferson was just a 2-point conversion away from being victoriously judged so.

The offensive line, so under fire after getting bullied at Georgia that Pittman publicly pondered promoting bigger backup guards Jalen St. John and Ty’Kieast Crawford, excelled. It excelled with guards Brady Latham and Beaux Limmer retaining their roles and 3-position handyman Ty Clary replacing injured fellow senior Dalton Wagner at right tackle.

Who can knock a line bulldozing and protecting for 676 yards total offense, 350 rushing and 326 passing?

Stats like receiver Treylon Burks’ game-leading 7 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, and running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders’ game-leading 139 yards on 17 carries speak for themselves.

So does the Trey Knox conversion from frustrated wide receiver to productive tight end, 5 catches with a touchdown while transfer via Florida State receiver Warren Thompson, 3 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Defense, the team’s strength in a 4-0 start prior visiting Georgia and Ole Miss, obviously took it on the 52-points/611 yards total offense chin.

Give Corral and his cohorts credit. They’ve been a juggernaut against all but Alabama and even scored 21 late on the Tide after down, 35-0.

But Arkansas certainly must defensively do better than its last two showings, bullied by Georgia’s running and helpless run and pass defending  against Ole Miss and netting zero turnovers both games.

Just like Jefferson as a run-pass quarterback, 85 yards and three touchdowns rushing and 326 yards and three touchdowns passing  plus as a dual threat distracting Ole Miss from proper attention to Arkansas running backs Sanders, Trelon Smith, Dominique Johnson and AJ Green, Corral excelled in triplicate. His 94 yards and three touchdowns running and 287 yards and two touchdowns passing also helped distract the defense from properly tending to Ole Miss running backs Henry Parrish, 111 yards, and Snoop Conner, 110 yards and three touchdowns.

Much to mend with another dual threat quarterback, Auburn’s Bo Nix, ready to run Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

We have rules of our defense, and there’s always a quarterback player and a running back player,” Arkansas senior linebacker Hayden Henry said. “There’s supposed to be someone there to make the play. On certain plays that play wasn’t being made. We just have to make those corrections and get better for next week.”

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