Week 12 - Arkansas at Mississippi State

Posted Nov 16, 2012

Week 12 Fearless Prediction – Arkansas at Mississippi State

Arkansas (4-6) at Mississippi State (7-3) Nov. 17, 12:21, SEC Network

Here's The Deal: It has been an awful season for Arkansas, considering the team came into the season thinking about winning the national championship, but the team is showing good fight in a lousy situation and is still alive – but barely – in the hope for a bowl game. It'll take wins over Mississippi State and LSU over a six day span to get there, but there's still something to shoot for.

With two losses in the last three games, and a 2-4 SEC record, Arkansas can't seem to get a win over a strong team and it can't improve in several key areas. The defense continues to have problems, the running game isn't working, and the production isn't there in the clutch. However, at least the Hogs have a win over the last three weeks.

The Mississippi State campaign fizzled out in a big hurry. The schedule got rougher, and so were the results losing three straight to the West big boys Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU by a combined score of 113 to 37. At 7-3 the Bulldogs are assured of a bowl game, but that will seem more than a little bit hollow if they can't close strong with winnable games against the Hogs this week and Ole Miss next week.

Why Arkansas Might Win: Besides dealing with better teams, what has gone so wrong for MSU lately? The running game has gone bye-bye. The Bulldogs were rumbling without a problem over the first seven games with 15 touchdowns and a good ground attack providing a solid balance. However, nothing has happened over the last three weeks rushing for 47 yards against Alabama, 98 yards and a score against Texas A&M and 47 yards against LSU. The offensive line has been decent enough to give quarterback Tyler Russell time, but it isn't generating a push against the better run defenses. The stats are a little skewed because everyone is throwing the ball on the Hogs, but the defensive front and the pass rush have been terrific. Arkansas hasn't allowed more than 106 rushing yards in the last five games.

Why Mississippi State Might Win: Speaking of running games, Arkansas doesn't have one. Stunningly, with a decent offensive line and backs Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis, nothing is working on the ground. The Hogs can't seem to find any consistency with a running game, going 0-3 this year when not rushing for 100 yards and 0-6 when not rumbling for multiple scores. The MSU defensive front might not be a rock, but it has allowed multiple rushing scores in just three games this season. Troy was the aberration, with Alabama and Texas A&M the other two able to do it. It's possible the MSU defense rises up and keeps Arkansas to a bare minimum on the ground if the quick and aggressive front can get into the backfield.

What To Watch Out For: Not helping the Arkansas cause is Knile Davis's struggles. The back was going through a wildly disappointing campaign, and things got worse with a hamstring injury he hasn't been able to shake. Two years ago he ran for a career-high 187 yards and two scores against MSU, but now it's going to be even more on the shoulders of Dennis Johnson to handle the workload. The senior ripped off two straight 100-yard games before getting stuffed for 41 yards on 11 carries, but last year he was able to come up with 98 yards on 14 carries against the Bulldogs and this week should be fed the ball at least 25 times.

What Will Happen: Mississippi State will get back on track. Arkansas is having too many problems hanging on to the ball – giving it up seven times in the last three games – and while the Bulldogs haven't taken the ball away much over the last few weeks, that will change. MSU will be +2 in turnover margin and will take advantage of the mistakes to get out of its slump.

CFN Prediction: Mississippi State 31 … Arkansas 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Mississippi State -6.5 O/U: 56
Must Watch Rating (5 – Killing Them Softly, 1 – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2): 3