Bulldogs return home for Senior Day to face Razorbacks team still seeking first SEC win
Mississippi State returns home from a rough outing to conclude its regular-season home slate against Arkansas. The Bulldogs (6-4, 2-4 SEC) for the first time this season failed to generate any points last week against Alabama, and the loss snapped a two-game winning streak.
Arkansas (2-8, 0-6) begins the first of two season-ending road trips on the heels of its most impressive SEC showing this season. The Razorbacks mounted a 14-point fourth quarter last week against LSU, but the surge was too late as the Tigers earned a 24-17 win. With just two wins this season, Arkansas will miss a bowl for the fourth consecutive year.
Arkansas and Mississippi State have played 28 times. Arkansas has won 16 of those matchups, while Mississippi State has won 11 times. The Bulldogs and Razorbacks played to a 13-13 tie in Little Rock in 1993. In last year’s meeting, Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Deddrick Thomas with under 30 seconds to play.
Arkansas at Mississippi State
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Mississippi State -21
Three Things to Watch
1. Sweat maker
Opposing offensive coordinators and head coaches have had to scheme around defensive end Montez Sweat for the last few years, and they’ll all breathe a sigh of relief when he ends his Mississippi State career. But until then, Sweat will have three more games to add to his legacy. In 13 games last year, Sweat tallied an SEC-leading 13.5 sacks. Through 10 games this season, Sweat has accumulated 9.5 sacks, which place him tied for fifth in the FBS in the category. The senior has accounted for 41 total tackles, including 12 for a loss, this year. Arkansas this season has given up 21 sacks for 128 yards.
2. De’Jon Harris
Sweat won’t be the only defensive force on the field Saturday. Harris, a junior, is the SEC leader in tackles. The Razorbacks linebacker has tallied 105 total tackles (54 solo, 51 assists) this season. He’s posted two sacks, five pass deflections and he’s forced one fumble. Harris has tallied double-digit tackling efforts in seven of Arkansas’ 10 games this year. Against Texas A&M and Ole Miss, Harris accumulated 12 and 10 solo tackles, respectively. In last year’s meeting with Mississippi State, Harris finished with three solo tackles and five assists.
3. Senior Day
Twenty seniors on Mississippi State’s rosters will play their last game at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday afternoon. And while this year did not meet the lofty expectations of many of the Bulldog faithful, the contributions of Mississippi State’s senior class cannot be denied. Bulldogs seniors have compiled a 30-19 record and will have played in four consecutive bowl games. They also have racked up six wins against teams ranked in the Top 25. Entering Saturday’s contest, Mississippi State’s senior class is ranked No. 8 all-time in school history for wins, but two more victories would propel the unit to fifth in school history.
Mississippi State hasn’t lived up to the preseason hype, but a nine-win season isn’t outside the realm of possibility. The Bulldogs defense is coming off of a game in which it held Alabama to its lowest-scoring output of the season, and it has been as good as advertised. The unit gets a favorable matchup against the Hogs to close out the home season on a positive note.
Arkansas has enjoyed wins against only FCS opponent Eastern Illinois and lowly Tulsa (2-8) this season. What better way to close out the final leg of the season than to steal a road victory from an SEC West opponent? And after last week’s showing against nationally ranked LSU, the Razorbacks most definitely have the momentum to make things interesting in Starkville.
Prediction: Mississippi State 30, Arkansas 13
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A sports reporter for The Meridian Star, Hayes also has been an invited guest on "The Paul Finebaum Show." Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.