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Arkansas vs. Ole Miss Football Prediction and Preview

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Ole Miss Rebels Football Prediction and Preview

Razorbacks, Rebels meet in Oxford with both SEC West teams looking to bounce back from last week's lopsided losses

Since we, the media, like to give various football games their own names, let's dub this Arkansas-Ole Miss matchup the Butt Hurt Bowl.

No two teams had higher hopes to pull off big upsets last week than these two programs. The Razorbacks were 4-0 and ranked No. 8 going on the road to No. 2 Georgia, and the Rebels were 4-0 and ranked No. 12 going to play at top-ranked Alabama. But both teams made the same sound as a tree falling in the forest with nobody hearing it.

The Hogs were zonked by a hearty 37-0 and Johnny Reb lost his fight by a 42-21 score. Insert sad face emoji here. Both teams now must take that cold slap of reality and get back to playing the stout brand of football they were playing before those high-profile faceplants.

No. 13 Arkansas at No. 17 Ole Miss

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 9 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Spread: Ole Miss -6

When Arkansas Has the Ball

UofA quarterback KJ Jefferson returns to his home state and definitely has something to prove. After last week's struggles, the spotlight shines a whole lot brighter on him this week as everyone wants to see how he and the Razorbacks' offense responds after getting stuffed so soundly by Georgia's raucous D. The best news of all is that the Ole Miss defense won't come close to resembling the Bulldogs, so look for KJ and Co. to let 'er rip as they had been in the first few weeks of the season. The Rebels are 12th in the SEC in total defense, giving up 371.3 yards per game. They also rank 12th in rushing defense, giving up 154.5 yards per game. So it won't be a surprise if Jefferson hits some big scrambles and Trelon Smith (62 carries, 302 yards) is used more often to sustain some ball control and keep that dangerous Rebels offense on the sidelines.

Also look for the Razorbacks to add some more diversity to their offense as well. In the last two games, Treylon Burks has nine catches for 177 yards. No other receiver has more than two receptions in that same two-week span. Jefferson has to share the sugar a little bit better and target more of his pass-catchers.

Look Razorbacks, you'll be going into another rowdy environment this Saturday. Last week the offense started its first series going…

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  • penalty (false start)
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  • sack (six-yard loss)
  • incompletion
  • punt

The Hogtown Boys must show some mettle and some cool. They seemed to let the crowd and the white-hot spotlight get to them. It also is interesting to note that Arkansas is ranked No. 124 in the FBS in penalties, earning an average of 9.8 yellow flags per game.

When Ole Miss Has the Ball

If the Rebels can duplicate the way they clicked on the opening drive against Alabama, they'll put Arkansas in Hog Hell real quick-like. Although they didn't score on that drive, it was an impressive 15-play push down inside the Crimson Tide 10-yard line. Ole Miss was mixing the run and pass perfectly, converted a pair of fourth-down plays, and quarterback Matt Corral had that offense in tempo, which is so vital for the Rebs. The only problem was they got stuffed on a fourth-down run, preventing an opening score that could've changed their fortunes in that game. Either way, if Corral and Co. get into a groove and start clicking, this is a dangerous offense.

One thing Lane Kiffin's team needs to do more than anything else is to stop with the self-inflicted wounds. For starters, Ole Miss is 129th nationally as the second-most penalized team in FBS, including eight last week against Alabama, which was actually its fewest in a game so far. The problem was that each flag seemed to occur at just the wrong time, including an untimely one that hindered that opening drive. The other facet was getting stopped twice on fourth down and fumbling a ball inside their own territory, giving Bama a short field three different times. Giving Jefferson similar short fields could be a death knell to the Rebels' hopes here.

Up until last Saturday, the Arkansas defense had not relinquished a single point in the first quarter this season. Then Georgia went out and jammed the ball right down the Razorbacks' throat and posted three touchdowns in less than 15 minutes of game time, essentially killing the fight inside the Hogs for the rest of the game. Facing an even better offense this week, they must get off to a better start because the Rebels have the ability to burn out some lights in the scoreboard in a hurry. Check the Razorback body language if the Rebels put up a quick, early score in front of the home crowd.

Final Analysis

Though not completely likely, the winner of this game keeps its hopes on making the SEC Championship Game alive. The loser can probably kiss a New Year's Day bowl goodbye. Despite giving up those 37 points to Georgia, the Hogs still have the 10th-best defense in the country. But now they'll be facing the third-best offense as the Rebels average 551 yards per game. Watching Corral in that Alabama game, you came away impressed with his leadership and playmaking ability. If the Rebels can make this a shootout, it's to their advantage.

Prediction: Ole Miss 42, Arkansas 31

Podcast: Week 6 Preview and Predictions + Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.