Arkansas Razorbacks (3-3, 3-2 ATS) at Mississippi Rebels (4-2, 3-2 ATS)
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Oxford, M.S Saturday October 24th, 12:20PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Arkansas +4.5/Mississippi -4
The Arkansas Razorbacks may be in last place of the SEC West, but they proved last week they can not be taken lightly nearing pulling off the pinnacle of upsets against the Florida Gators. The Razorbacks fell short of the monumental feat 23-20, but they will use that game as momentum for the remainder of the season.
The Razorbacks offense has been dynamic all season, but the defense stepped up last week and that is bad news for the rest of the teams left on Arkansas’ schedule. The first target for the Razorbacks new found confidence takes aim at the Mississippi Rebels this week in Oxford.
The Rebels have fallen to both Alabama and South Carolina after holding the number 4 ranking in the country earlier this season. While many thought the Rebels had fallen apart, it is quite apparent that both teams the Rebels were defeated by are very solid ball clubs. Still, problems remain on the surface especially around the offensive side of the ball.
The Rebels highly praise QB Jevan Snead has done anything but impress as he leads the SEC with 9 interceptions. In fact the entire Rebels offense has yet to break through, and they hope to expose the Arkansas defense that was playing very poorly before last weeks stand against Florida.
The Rebels offense has been anything but consistent this season. Not only is Snead not performing, but the offense can not get their biggest playmaker involved in the game. WR Dexter McCluster has been just as big a disappointment as Snead. McCluster had nearly 1,300 yards between rushing and receiving last year as a Percy Harvin type utility threat.
However, McCluster has failed to reach 200 yards in either category this season and that is a big reason the explosive factor for the Rebels offense has disappeared. The wild cat formation that in all rights started by Coach Houston Nutt has turned into a pro style looking offense. Running back Brandon Bolden carries the work load with 364 yards and the passing game turns to WR Shay Hodge frequently to make plays.
Hodge is a potential Sunday football starter, but he simply needs more help from the rest of the offense. Arkansas has not fielded the pass well this season and Snead will have more success than he has had this entire season.
However, that is not to hand the win to the Rebels by any means. The guy wearing #15 for Arkansas may be the best quarterback in the conference. Ryan Mallett has been superb through the opening 6 games throwing for 1,649 yards to help revive the Razorbacks offense. Mallett has some young sophomore wide outs to target mainly the big play threat of Greg Childs and he is giving all those young guys the chance to be big time players.
The Arkansas offense loves to air the ball out and Mallett has only thrown 3 picks on the season despite 187 passing attempts. The Razorbacks quarterback leads the SEC in passing touchdowns with 14 on the season and rest assured he will give the Rebels defense all they can handle this Saturday.
The Rebels defense would seemingly be the difference maker in this contest. Mississippi plays very well in the secondary allowing just 152 yards per game, but they have yet to play an offense that will keep the ball in the air as much as the Razorbacks. However, the defense is still extremely talented and they will have their moments. DE Greg Hardy is a big time player and he could make things very difficult on Mallett if he can stay in the backfield. Hardy has some talented company along side him on the defensive line and those guys will be the x factor. If the Rebels can put pressure on Mallett they will win, if not the Razorbacks offense will plant more disappointment into the hearts of the Rebels faithful.
Mississippi is 5-1 SU in their last 6 games at home and 10-2 SU in their last 12 games all together. However, the Razorbacks have won 4 of the last 5 against the Rebels and won all 5 of those games against the spread.
Jay’s Pick – Lot of points here. Take the over.