FAYETTEVILLE – Saturday’s Arkansas vs. Ole Miss game easily could be titled the “Get Over It Bowl.”
Seems the visiting Razorbacks, 4-1 overall/1-1 in the SEC, and hosting Rebels, 3-1, 0-1, both have much to get over going into this 11 a.m. ESPN televised SEC West game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.
Nationally No. 2 Georgia and its nationally No. 1 defense annihilated Arkansas, 37-0 last Saturday in Athens, Ga..
Against the nationally No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Ole Miss trailed 35-0 before Alabama eased its foot off the fourth quarter pedal finishing up, 42-21.
The defeats against opponents out of their league, though lodged in their league, dented but certainly don’t derail what Coach Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks and Coach Lane Kiffin’s Rebels have accomplished thus far.
The Rebels ranked No. 12 in the country establishing quarterback Matt Corral as a Heisman Trophy candidate in 3-0 start over Louisville, Austin Peay, and Tulane. Corral, 21 of 29 against Alabama, remains one though obviously outshone in Tuscaloosa by Alabama redshirt freshman quarterback Bryce Young. Ole Miss also remains a Top 20 falling only five places to No. 17 with Associated Press voters taking Alabama’s prowess into account.
Similarly, the AP voters took Georgia’s prowess into account. They only dropped Arkansas five places, 8th to 13th.
They obviously appreciated the unranked meteoric rise, rating the Hogs No. 20 after they trounced 40-21, a then No. 15 and now back in the Top 20, 4-1 Texas Longhorns team in the season’s second game. The same voters advanced Arkansas to No. 8 after the Hogs two Saturdays ago beat then No. 7 Texas A&M, 20-10.
So if each shake off getting overmatched last week, which Pittman and Kiffin claim their teams have done, two confident teams should clash.
Las Vegas oddsmakers have favored Ole Miss by 5 1-2 points.
That shouldn’t daunt Arkansas. In his year and a half at the Hogs helm, Pittman points out Arkansas hasn’t been favored in a SEC game yet.
The Hogs are 4-8 in the SEC under Pittman, and other than start to finish blowouts, last year by Alabama and Georgia this year, stayed SEC competitive every game at least into the second half.
Arkansas upset Ole Miss, 33-21 last year in Fayetteville while corralling Corral six passes for interceptions.
Kiffin was so impressed with Arkansas’ defensive scheme that he adopted it this season.
Corral, determined rather than shaken by his flop in Fayetteville, has succeeded ever since. He hasn’t thrown a pick this year in 125 attempts. Corral’s completed 87 for 1,210 yards and 10 touchdowns and has rushed for six.
Pittman said the Hogs must add “new wrinkles” to their defensive package because Corral surely will be prepared to attack what he didn’t master against Arkansas last year.
Corral’s mobility adds to a Rebels’ running attack featuring backs Jerrion Ealy and Henry Parrish averaging 5.1 and 6.2 yards per carry.
Ole Miss receivers Dontario Drummond, Jonathan Mingo, and Braylon Sanders combined have caught 49 passes for 840 yards and nine touchdowns.
Mingo is questionable because of injuries. Drummond is a threat by himself.
“I really like Drummond,” Pittman said. “He’s a whole world of talent.”
Sanders and Mingo aren’t far behind.
“They remind a little bit of the guys we have,” Pittman said of Arkansas’ receiving corps headed by Treylon Burks, 22 for 383 yards and two touchdowns. “They can go catch contested balls, run really good routes.”
Ole Miss’ defense, a leaky sieve last season, has been more than patched by adding transfer leading tacklers Otis Reese, a safety via Georgia, and linebacker Chance Campbell via Maryland.
Defensive end Sam Williams has proven a quarterback’s nightmare with five sacks in three games.
On Arkansas’ behalf, its defense proved nearly spectacular its first four games and its offensive line proficient run-blocking and pass-protecting.
Cast aside everything Arkansas against Georgia.
The Bulldogs did everything against Arkansas but pass. That’s because they didn’t have to pass much, running the ball so well with such great field position carved by their defense and special teams.
Against the rest, and A&M’s defense was preseason deemed roughly Georgia’s caliber, the Razorbacks offense, quarterbacked by homecoming Mississippian KJ Jefferson, has done just fine.
Jefferson hails from Sardis, Miss. near Oxford.
Jefferson presents 245-pounds of power running/strong armed quarterbacking against Ole Miss, Kiffin has said.
Correcting punt blocks, Georgia blocked one recovered for a touchdown, and reducing penalties (13 Arkansas penalties in Athens) load Pittman’s agenda.
Penalties, the Rebels have committed 42 in four games, concern Kiffin, too.