No. 16 Mississippi State shocked the college football world last weekend when they ended LSU’s nation-leading 16-game winning streak. The Arkansas Razorbacks will look to bring theBulldogs back down to earth in Starkville Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.
Stanford transfer K.J. Costello set the SEC record with 623 passing yards and five touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ week one victory over LSU. The team threw the ball 60 times and recorded only nine rushing yards in the contest.
“I think [Mike Leach] is really smart,” Razorback head coach Sam Pittman said. “He’s an outstanding football coach. I’ve met him but I don’t know him well, but I have a lot of respect for him and he sure as heck had his team prepared and ready to play on Saturday.”
The Razorback defense was impressive through 39 minutes against the Georgia offense, but started to fall apart in the third quarter. The Hogs held the ‘Dogs to 2.9 yards per run and 5.7 yards per pass while forcing two turnovers. (Related: Arkansas defense holds tight for 39 minutes in loss to Georgia)
“I thought they were a pretty tenacious group,” Leach said about the Razorback defense. “I thought that they moved around well. I thought that they were aggressive. They just flat out took a half away from Georgia and I thought that was quite impressive.”
Arkansas leads Mississippi State in the all time series, 16-13-1. Last year’s meeting came in Fayetteville, a game the Hogs lost 54-24 and gave up 460 rushing yards. The Razorbacks’ last win over the Bulldogs came in Starkville in 2016, 58-42.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS SNAPSHOT
In his first game as a head coach for the Bulldogs, Mike Leach unleashed his ‘air raid’ offense in impressive fashion. Of the teams 632 total yards, just nine came on the ground.
Though Costello reset the record books through the air, he threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and suffered five sacks. He averaged 10.4 yards per pass and spread the ball to 10 different receivers against LSU.
Senior receiver Osirus Mitchell, 6-5, 210 pounds, hauled in seven passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns for the ‘Dogs in week one. Preseason All-SEC First Team running back Kylin Hill caught eight passes for 158 yards and a touchdown.
The Mississippi State defense surrendered 345 passing yards and 80 rushing yards to the Tigers. The Bulldogs allowed LSU to convert on just 29% of third downs and also recorded two interceptions from the Tigers’ first year starting quarterback, Myles Brennan.
ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS SNAPSHOT
Arkansas looked like an SEC-caliber team for two and a half quarters against Georgia. The Hogs defense allowed the Bulldogs just 5 points for 39 minutes. Senior Grant Morgan led the team with 13 tackles and redshirt senior Dorian Gerald paced the Hogs with 1.5 sacks.
The offense struggled early and often for Arkansas. The Hogs were dealt rough starting field position, only receiving the ball past their own 25 yard line once. Star running back, Rakeem Boyd, was unable to find any room, rushing for just 21 yards on 11 attempts.
The lone bright spot on offense was sophomore receiver Treylon Burks, who caught seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Florida transfer Feleipe Franks was a victim of the talented Georgia secondary, completing 19 of 36 pass attempts and throwing two interceptions.
Special teams hurt the Razorbacks in week one as they surrendered two 40-plus yard kickoff returns and a blocked punt that changed the momentum of the game.