Thoughts of grandeur … Admit it, you had them in the first half against Georgia last week.
You probably even envisioned the “bottom line” of ESPN flashing yellow to indicate an upset alert.
Minus the staunch doubting Thomases many of us did, and it was fun for a recent change.
No one expected Arkansas to conquer an impressive Georgia team with an already stellar defense from last season returning eight starters.
No one even anticipated the Hogs holding an oddly scored 7–5 edge going into halftime.
And absolutely no one predicted how fantastic the Razorbacks defense would perform, especially early in the contest.
That’s the past, and the focus shifts to this weekend with an entire evolving scope of expectation.
When surveying the condensed 2020 football schedule, most chalked up Week 4 as a loss with the glimmer our second game against Mississippi State could finally be the conference victory which has eluded us for two straight seasons.
Fast forward to now, and an entirely new assessment has to be pondered based solely upon how the “Air Raid” offense Mike Leach has installed in Starkville completely bewildered the defending national champions (LSU in case you missed it) all game long … at home … in Baton Rouge … Louisiana … DEATH VALLEY people.
Therefore, we reassess, and we try to look at how Arkansas can possibly win this game… on the road … in Starkville … Mississippi… DAVIS WADE STADIUM people.
You’re right, the latter just doesn’t quite have even an ounce of as much as intimidation as the prior, but I tried.
Why Arkansas will win:
Confidence on the defensive side of the ball. Arkansas showed last week Barry Odom can develop and execute a defensive strategy competitive in the SEC.
Devin Bush. The word is he has been asked to step up with Jarques McClellion respectfully (and rightfully) optioning out of the 2020 season. Remember Bush?
He’s instinctive, and many of us were sweating his decision to enter the transfer portal after last season. A choice he thankfully later rescinded and will verify against the Bulldogs.
The offense will arrive. This is a very, very bold prediction, but MSU’s defensive front is not as versatile and talented as Georgia’s.
Additionally, our offense showed some flashes of positivity which Kendal Briles can utilize to build a better strategy this week.
Why Mississippi State will win:
Bulldogs quarterback K.J. Costello has a 60% completion percentage, he threw for 623-yards against LSU, and he has a passer rating of 168.1. Those numbers alone would beat most SEC teams.
Three of State’s receivers caught for over 100-yards last week, and four had a catch for at least on touchdown. Has Mike Leach really made such an instant impact, or was it a fluke? Please let it be a fluke.
And, unfortunately, there is more. Even though attendance will be limited, my understanding is the fans will still have those daaa … blasted cowbells.
Seriously, they brag about it being the best tradition in college sports, and it’s based upon an alleged (and thus unverified) story of a jersey cow wandering onto the football field in the 1940s in a game against Ole Miss.
Sounds made up. This won’t really impact the game, I just do not like them. Sound fair?
With the above nods to my football intellect, I know the limb I just crawled onto, and I am aware of the pitfall underneath, so, despite multiple warnings from those closest to me, I will see you on social media around 9:30 p.m. Saturday evening
I want every Bulldog fan to realize this: when the SEC voted in 2010 to allow you to “bring the ring,” you guys weren’t any good in the timeframe, and the conference probably thought, “Well, how much of a distraction can 18 fans ringing cowbells at designated times really be? We’ll allow it.”
That being said, we are not good now, so maybe we should bring in every artificial noise maker known to man and call it a tradition.
I once saw Chad Morris run onto the field at Razorback Stadium; maybe the fine folks from Franklin County can bring their turkey calls to the games for a trial run.
The Bulldogs are hyped and confident, but hopefully they celebrated their victory over LSU all week, and this is a trap game. I fear this is not the case, specifically because their subsequent opponent is Kentucky.
Mississippi State 30 Arkansas 20
Be certain to listen to the game Saturday at 3 p.m. via HitThatLine.com, and on the air at ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.
SEC Picks for Week 5
South Carolina at (3) Florida: As predicted, the Gamecocks kept it close at home versus a ranked Tennessee team. Oddly enough, after the fact, the Vols dropped in the rankings thus saying a lot about the national perspective of both teams. How does this have any bearing on South Carolina’s game versus Florida. Easy deduction summed up: the Gators will not drop in the rankings next week. Florida by 24.
Missouri at (21) Tennessee: Do not let the Tigers’ 38–19 score against Alabama fool you. What’s the phrase, “mop-up duty”? The Vols still do not have me convinced they are worthy of any ranking; however, they are at home, and that gives them the edge in a game which narrowly missed being given the “SLOPFEST OF THE WEEK” moniker. Tennessee by 18.
(13) Texas A&M at (2) Alabama: CBS is giving this contest their “Game of the Week” honors, yet with Texas A&M’s poor showing HOSTING Vanderbilt, I simply cannot. Let the record show I do not think this game will be close past midway through the second quarter. Maybe I am wrong, and perhaps those predicting the Aggies to complete an upset are better at the picking game than I … Not in this case. Tide by 31.
Ole Miss at Kentucky: Someone will get their first conference win in this one. Will it be Kentucky, who we all knew coming in was overrated? Or will it be the enthusiastic Rebels after giving Florida a decent (yet never really in doubt) game in Oxford last week? Smart money is on the Black Bears (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days). Ole Miss by 14.
(7) Auburn at (4) Georgia [GAME OF THE WEEK]: Let’s put it all on the table. Georgia is not as good as they were last season, and Arkansas may have exposed some weaknesses Kirby Smart may not have been able to cinch up within a week’s time. Gus Malzahn is a smart enough coach to recognize the Bulldogs’ issues and estimate how they intend to fix them so Gus can game plan around it. Unfortunately for Auburn, Chad Morris – whose name I hope to never mention again (even though the Hogs play Auburn next week) – is still calling the offense. Will Malzahn (who looked quite fetching in his short-sleeve button up shirt and oversized cap last week) tighten the reins a little bit in such an early, highly profiled contest? You bet he will. Will it work? Doubtful. Georgia by 3.
Arkansas at (16) Mississippi State: Andy is probably wondering what is taking me so long to submit this week. Well, it’s because I still have not made up my mind. If you’re reading this, it means I forgot to come back and edit this one particular prediction, most likely from thinking about #12 things. That will make sense later. Arkansas may pull off what some would deem an upset. I just don’t see it happening, yet it will be close. Bulldogs by 10.
(20) LSU at Vanderbilt: You know, I almost feel bad for LSU given Ed Orgeron is such a nice guy, and they had mild aspirations of being able to repeat based upon the set expectations from last year. No one really expected this team to be as good as the national championship team, did they? In more recent news, neither Andy or I saw the loss to Mississippi State coming from the Natural State. However, this week we clearly see LSU taking out their disappointment against the Commodores. Tigers by a brutal 32.
Here’s to predicting a loss but hoping for a victory.
Find me on ‘Twitter’: @PeterMorganWPS