Arkansas at Ole Miss: Game Prediction

Photo: Walt Beazley, UA Athletics
Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg runs after a catch during the Hogs’ win versus Auburn at Razorback Stadium.

Final score: Arkansas 29, Ole Miss 24. Congrats to Charlie who was only five points off and wins a free t-shirt! We’ll be in touch shortly, Charlie.

How was your bye week, everyone? I did some yard work and several things around the house. It was great. What I’m really saying is, who’s ready for the second half of the season?

I know that I am and it sounds like almost all of the Arkansas Razorbacks are, too (except for Tank Wright, Kody Walker and Knile Davis). Sitting at 5-1 at this point in the season is pretty much where everyone thought the Hogs would/should be (aside from the near meltdown in Dallas). Last year we came into this week with a 4-2 record and rattled off six straight wins, landing our boys in the BCS. The next five games are winnable, all pointing to that magical post-Thanksgiving date with LSU looming.

This week the Hogs find themselves traveling to the state of Mississippi to take on the Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears and our former head coach, Houston Nutt. Since coach Nutt departed the Arkansas job and Bobby Petrino took the reins, the two programs have most definitely gone their separate ways. Arkansas waltzes in with a 5-1 (1-1) record and a #9 BCS ranking, while Ole Miss is struggling at 2-4 (0-3).

Things are bad enough in Oxford that not only is Ole Miss riding a 9-game SEC losing streak (dating back to last year), but Athletic Director Pat Boone has openly talked about the awfulness that is Ole Miss football right now.

So, how bad is it? Well, their defense (who just lost two starters during the Alabama game last weekend) ranks 106th out of 120 FBS schools in yards allowed (442.8 per game) and is currently 11th in the SEC in points allowed (29.2). Their offense isn’t much better where they average 150+ yards passing and 101 yards rushing per game (that ranks them 109th and 108th nationally, respectively).

But coach Nutt, ever the optimist, “sees light at end of the tunnel” — unfortunately, no one knows that that light is, exactly.

There’s a light, eh, coach? Well, I think that coach Petrino and the Hogs will be glad you left the light on for them because it won’t be easy to snap that SEC losing streak this weekend with Arkansas coming to town.

Offensively – Usually when a team goes on their bye week, they’re able to rest up their injured players and work on things that have troubled them during the first part of the season. Word is, coach Petrino says the offensive line made strides during the time off. As noted, the Ole Miss defense isn’t playing well, at all, so Dennis Johnson, Broderick Green and (a healthy) Ronnie Wingo, Jr., could be poised to have a breakout running game. Also, don’t be the least bit surprised to see Joe Adams line up in the backfield a bit more often after his long TD run against Auburn. Tyler Wilson has been on fire as of late (perhaps that had something to do with him being named a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards finalist), and I don’t expect him to cool off any time soon. We know he’s tough as nails, but Wilson will need to keep playing smart, taking what the defense gives him and navigating our offense efficiently. Greg Childs finally showed us all that he’s still able to make a difference in the receiving department. And while I still think he’s ready to make more noise, I really think that Cobi Hamilton will have a great game. If not, it’s always a toss up between Childs, Adams, Jarius Wright and whoever else will have hot hands week-in and week-out.

Defensively – There’s really no one on the Ole Miss offense that scares me this season (like Dexter McCluster used to). But, what IS scary is having coach Nutt on the sidelines calling the shots. Nutt may not be the best coach ever, nor is he having the best season ever, but he’s a master motivator and the Ole Miss players’ backs are against the wall — as in, they need to start making some noise now if they want to play in a bowl game this year. The good news for the Hogs is that most of the starters are back and healthy. I’d really like to see coach Robinson turn up the heat a little in this game. I’d especially love to not see a 100 yard rusher for Ole Miss, or any plays go for 40+ yards. It’s time for this defensive unit to have a complete game and show everyone why they were so hyped before the season started.

It’ll be an early start in Oxford and the Hotty Totty people(?) will be ready to go. I don’t expect Coach Petrino to let his players sleepwalk through this game and I’m hoping they pounce on Ole Miss early. If the Hogs come in and do what they need to do, this game should be out of reach by half time. If the Hogs let Ole Miss hang around, this could go down to the 4th quarter, which could play right into Nutt’s hands. But, in the end, Arkansas will have the final say on who wins. My prediction, Arkansas 42, Ole Miss, 13.

Let us know what you think the final score will be. If you’re the closest (see rules below), you’ll get a free t-shirt from Bearstate Supply.

How to enter

Leave a comment with your game prediction. If you want to add anything else, please feel free.

What you’ll win

One t-shirt of your choice (design, color, size) from the Bearstate Supply online store. (Hoodies, ringers and tri-blend AA’s not included)

The rules

  • You only may enter this specific contest once.
  • Contests are open to anyone anywhere except staff of Fayetteville Flyer and their immediate family members.
  • The winning entry must pick the winning team and have the smallest combined difference from each team’s final score. Example: If the Razorbacks win by a score of 21-7, and your prediction was Razorbacks 20-10, your difference would be 1 + 3 = 4. In the event of a tie, a winner will be selected by a random drawing.
  • You must pick the score by 15 minutes before kickoff for each game.
  • Make sure you leave a valid e-mail address when filling out the comment form since that’s how we’ll contact you if you’ve won.

Good luck!

Arkansas @ Ole Miss

Date: Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011
Time: 11:21 a.m.
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.
TV: SEC Network / ESPN3

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