Ole Miss Rebels (3-3, 3-2 ATS) at No. 21 Arkansas Razorbacks (4-2, 3-3 ATS), Week 8 College Football, Saturday October 23rd, 12:30PM Eastern Donald W. Reynolds Stadium Fayetteville, AR.
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Mississippi OFF/Ark OFF (Mallett status not determined yet)
Over/Under Total: OFF
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The no. 21 Arkansas Razorbacks suffered one of their more embarrassing losses in recent memory last week falling to the Auburn Tigers 65-43. Even though the score indicates a blowout, the Razorbacks were going head to head with the Tigers but gave up 3 turnovers that lead to Auburn scoring 28 points in the 4th quarter alone which allowed the game to get out of hand. The Razorbacks may have failed to score the big victory on the road, but they will get to return home this week to hosts the Ole Miss Rebels in attempt to get back to their winning ways. The Rebels have been a doormat in the SEC West this season, but interestingly enough they are 1-2 in conference play which is identical to the Razorbacks 1-2 mark in SEC action.
The Rebels main problems this season have been on the defensive side of the ball where they have given up 31 points per game and if you remember they were one of the biggest upset stories of opening weekend when the defense failed to get any stops in their loss to FCS opponent Jacksonville State 49-48. However, the defense did play much better and show more toughness in last week’s 23-10 loss to Alabama. The Rebels defense held Alabama to just 319 total yards and held former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram to just 60 yards rushing. If the Rebels can get another similar type defensive effort, they could put themselves in contention to knocking off a top 25 ranked Razorbacks team.
On offense the Rebels have been pretty solid averaging 32 points and just less than 400 yards of offense per game. QB Jeremiah Masoli has not been the most accurate passer completing 56% with 7 scores and 6 picks. However, Masoli has been a solid runner in the Rebels heavily favored rushing offense. The Rebels rank 19th in the nation among rushing offenses averaging 219 yards per game on the ground. Masoli is 2nd in rushing on the team with 302 rushing yards behind tailback Brandon Bolden. Bolden has posted 550 yards while averaging 6.4 yards per carry with 5 touchdowns this season. The Arkansas defense has been susceptible to the run this year allowing 167 yards per game so it will be interesting to see how well the Rebels can get the ground game rolling this Saturday.
For the Razorbacks, they have been one of the highest powered offenses in the nation this season. However everyone in Razorback nation held their breath last week when they witnessed Heisman hopeful QB Ryan Mallett get knocked out of the Auburn game with a concussion. The Razorbacks favor the pass so heavily that the loss of their star quarterback would have serious jeopardy on their success for the rest of the season. The good news for Arkansas fans is all early indications show that Mallett has shown signs of improvement and most believe he will be behind center this Saturday. So far this season, Mallett has been sensational completing 69% passing for1,844 yards, 14 scores, and 6 picks.
Having Mallett in the game will greatly increase Arkansas chances of moving the football and ultimately winning. If for some reason Mallett is not able to go, QB Tyler Wilson will be the man in waiting. Wilson was solid last week completing 25 of 34 passing for 332 yards and 4 picks. However, Wilson also gave up 2 picks in the 4th quarter which helped seal the fate of the Razorbacks attempt for victory. Whoever is behind center, rest assured they have plenty of targets at the wide receiver position. Joe Adams and Greg Childs have combined for more yards in the SEC than any other wide receiver combination. Adams has 28 catches for 495 yards while Childs leads the team with 37 catches for 527 yards on the season. The Rebels secondary has been a big concern this season and it is safe to say they their biggest challenge of the season this Saturday. If the Rebels truly have improved, they will have to prove it against the 2nd best passing offense in America.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Early betting lines have this game off the board as they wait to see if Ryan Mallett will be able to play. However, I will go ahead and say this.. There is nobody in the Ole Miss secondary that matches up with either one of the big 3 wide outs from Arkansas. I expect the Razorbacks to have no trouble in a big win here no matter if Wilson is in the game or Mallett. I expect the line to be rather reasonable after Arkansas gave up 65 last week and the Rebels keep things rather close with Alabama. When that happens, be prepared to pull the trigger on the Razorbacks here.