No. 8 Ole Miss Rebels (8-2 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (5-5 SU, 8-2 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date and Time: Saturday November 22nd, 2014. 3:30PM EST
Where: Razorback Stadium Fayetteville, A.R.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MISS -3/ARK +3
Over/Under Total: TBA
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The Arkansas Razorbacks ended a 17 game losing streak in SEC competition last week with an impressive 17-0 shutout against the 17th ranked LSU Tigers. I waved a warning flag last week when LSU was listed as slight dogs against a sub 500 Arkansas team and pointed out the Razorbacks have been playing well despite their record. This week coach Bret Bielema and Arkansas look to continue their program improvement as they seek another big win when they host the no. 8 Ole Miss Rebels inside Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
The Rebels dropped each of their last two outings in SEC competition against LSU and Auburn. However they rebounded with an easy out of conference rout over Presbyterian and then enjoyed a bye week this past weekend. Nevertheless, the Rebels should be fresh when they go into Arkansas and try to build on their breakout season under Coach Hugh Freeze. For the Rebels to end their two game skid in the SEC, they will need a big performance from the defense this week. Ole Miss currently houses the number 1 scoring defense in college football yielding just 11 points per game. However the Rebels were gashed in their most recent SEC outing against Auburn for the tune of 502 total yards and 35 points. Auburn was able to run the football effectively and hit passes down the field to stymie the Ole Miss defense.
This week Arkansas will attack the Rebels defense with a lot of the same tendencies that Auburn used back in their November 1st meeting. The Razorbacks are among the best power rushing teams in the country and average over 230 yards per game on the ground. Bielemas first season in Fayetteville has been a recipe of a relentless ground attack and taking shots down the field in opportune situations. The Rebels defense did not hold up well in a similar recipe against Auburn and it will be telling to see how the nations number 1 scoring defense responds this week on the road.
The Razorbacks have two premier rushing threats in tailbacks Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. Both tailbacks have averaged a healthy 6 yards per carry on the season and have amassed 11 touchdowns a piece on the ground. Both backs should eclipse the 1,000 yard plateau barring any regress during the final two games of the season and more importantly should present a strong threat towards the Ole Miss defense this Saturday. If those guys can keep the chains moving, perhaps quarterback Brandon Allen will have some opportunities to connect down the field. Last week LSUs top rated defense defended the run very well but it was the passing plays down the field that crippled their efforts and Allen will need to have a similarly effective game this Saturday.
The matchup on the other side of the ball will be intriguing to watch as well. Senior Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace is having an excellent season completing 64% of his passes for 2,556 yards with 22 touchdowns and just 8 picks. The Rebels have performed really well in the passing game and they do a good job of keeping pressure on opposing defenses. The Arkansas defense has played really well during the latter part of the season. Before the LSU shutout, the Razorbacks nearly knocked off no. 1 Mississippi State with a strong defensive effort and they have given up just 18 points on average throughout their last 5 games. If this game is as close as most expect, it could be a few big plays on offense or a few big stops on the defensive side of the ball that ultimately decide the outcome.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Call me crazy, but I think the Razorbacks will pull off their 2nd straight upset. Arkansas has been an excellent money maker for bettors this season going 8-2 ATS and this is another matchup where they can excel. Barring any defensive blunder, I think the Razorbacks win this one outright. Take Arkansas +3!