Week 9 - Ole Miss at Arkansas

Posted Oct 26, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Ole Miss at Arkansas

Ole Miss (4-3) at Arkansas (3-4) Oct 27, 12:21, SEC Network

Here's The Deal: All of a sudden, very quietly, Arkansas is starting to turn things around a little bit. No, there's no prayer of winning the SEC West title, but after blowing away Auburn and Kentucky by a combined score of 73 to 14, a bowl appearance and respectability are back on the table. Give the team and head coach John L. Smith credit; just when it seemed like everyone was going to fold up the tent and wait until a new era could begin next season, everyone kept on trying. However, Auburn and UK are the SEC's lightweights, and with South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU to close, it's probably going to take a win this week and a victory next week against Conference USA star Tulsa to get a bowl bid.

Ole Miss has put together a nice first season under head coach Hugh Freeze, beating the teams it has supposed to and coming in rested after blasting Auburn by three touchdowns two weeks ago. The Rebels have lost the last two games against the Hogs, but with a strong offense and a defense that's doing a nice job against everyone but the elite attacks it has dealt with, there's a chance to get back on the bowl track with a win this week and with a winnable home game against Vanderbilt to potentially count on. This is a big moment and a big test for the Rebels to see if they can beat someone their own size. No one expected a win over Texas, Alabama or Texas A&M, but Arkansas is a winnable game on the road that could make or break the season.

Why Ole Miss Might Win: Turnover margin continues to be a problem for Arkansas, at least overall. The blowout over Auburn was easy with the defense taking the ball away five times, but on the year the defense has come up with just two turnovers in other games. The offense isn't effective and efficient enough to be running like it was supposed to, and the defense has hardly been a rock against anyone but the weak and the sad, so it needs easy points. Ole Miss has had turnover issues, but the defense has mostly been able to pick up the slack. Against the Hogs, the Rebels should be able to use several aspects of the attack to run the ball on a defensive front that's statistically doing a good job, but wasn't close against Alabama or Texas A&M, the two teams that could run. Ole Miss has run for two touchdowns or more in every game but the win over UTEP, but it was able to tear off a season-high 330 yards.

Why Arkansas Might Win: Can the Arkansas defense be helped out by a terrific punting game? Ole Miss is having a disastrous time on punt returns, averaging a mere 2.1 yards per pop with no plays helping to change up the field position. Meanwhile, Dylan Breeding has been fantastic, averaging over 46 yards per kick in an area that might be the strength of the team. Defensively, no, Arkansas didn't have any luck against Alabama and Texas A&M, but they boast two of the best offensive lines in America. The Ole Miss line has been good, but the offensive style allows for lots and lots of defensive plays in the backfield. Arkansas can get behind the line and it might be able to disrupt the Rebel offense before it can get started.

What To Watch Out For: Bo Wallace is coming off a terrific game against Auburn and needs to outplay Tyler Wilson. The Rebel sophomore quarterback has played well at times, but it's all about the picks. In the three losses he has thrown seven interceptions, and in the four wins he has thrown one, and it didn't matter in the win over Central Arkansas. Last week he was almost flawless completing 17-of-22 passes for 226 yards and a score while running for 39 yards and two touchdowns. He's getting a better feel for the offense, and he'll need to be at his sharpest if this gets into any sort of a shootout – and he'll have to be mistake free.

What Will Happen: Ole Miss is playing better than Arkansas overall, but this will be a game for Wilson and the Hog passing game. The Rebel secondary will give up big plays from time to time, and it's going to have a big problem this week with a few home runs.

CFN Prediction: Arkansas 34 … Ole Miss 27
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Ole Miss -6 O/U: 64
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 3