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GAMEDAY: No. 16 MSU at Arkansas




Can y'all believe this is the last true road game of the season, with just the Egg Bowl and a bowl game left to be played? Football season flies by. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: You can check out the College Sports section of this fine website to find stories on: Darryl Williams' growth at left guard and another on Erroll Thompson's growth into a role that could make him the future at linebacker for MSU, plus a notebook touching on the Arkansas offense, among other things, and this week's Walk-on Wednesday introducing you to a Fayetteville native returning home with his Bulldogs. (That last story is here on the blog.) 


Also on the blog is 5 Question with Arkansas beat writer Trent Shadid and a look at how MSU ended up where it did in the CFP rankings. 


NOTES: MSU is 2-9-1 in the state of Arkansas, 1-3 in Fayetteville...Arkansas hasn't had a 100-yard receiver on MSU since Hunter Henry did it in both 2014 and 2015 --oddly enough, both MSU wins...The best passing performance against the Arkansas defense this year was Ole Miss' Jordan Ta'amu's 368 yards, meaning Dak Prescott's 508 in 2015 is the last time any quarterback has thrown for 400, 450 or 500 yards on the Hogs. Also in that 2015 game against the Hogs, Prescott set the school records for touchdowns responsible for (which Fitzgerald later tied), completions, passing touchdowns and total offense...Nick Fitzgerald is one of only two quarterbacks with at least 800 rushing yards and at least 1,600 passing yards; the other is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson...A win here would tie the current senior class with the 2000 class with 33 wins. One more would tie it for the most wins in a senior class, with the bowl game then being a shot at taking over the outright record. 


NUMBERS TO KNOW: MSU's currently averaging 250.6 rushing yards per game, which would be best in MSU history since the school record was set in 1980 if that mark holds (Arkansas is averaging 191 rushing yards allowed per game)...For all of Arkansas' offensive shortcomings at times, it's actually a rock-solid third down team: 43.26 percent conversion rate ranks top 40 in the nation...On that subject, watch out for Arkansas' Cheyenne O'Grady on third down: he's caught eight third-down passes and six have either scored a touchdown or moved the chains...Even if Arkansas leads late, there's no need to worry: Under Bielema, Arkansas is only 24-11 when leading after three quarters. That's a lot of losses for that situation...MSU safety Johnathan Abram has had at least six tackles in each of his last three games -- especially impressive given he was called for targeting in that stretch and had to sit out some. 


FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: MSU 31, Arkansas 13. I really think you're going to see some inspired football out of Arkansas right out the gate: given the news about Jeff Long this week, there's no denying these Razorbacks are playing for their coach, and plus they have to win out to reach bowl eligibility. However, I think eventually MSU's many matchup advantages will deliver one clean punch that makes Arkansas fold like a lawn chair. I'm guessing that punch comes late in the second quarter and it feels like MSU has control late in the second quarter but the scoreboard doesn't really reflect that until the third quarter, when it can really put this thing to bed. 


OTHER PREDICTIONS: Jeffery Simmons will have 1.5 sacks or more...This is finally the game where Aeris Williams gets rewarded with more yards and a score or two for all the grinding he does to help the offense...I think we're going to see an unexpected player catch a touchdown pass, maybe someone like Osirus Mitchell or Farrod Green...The TV broadcast crew (Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Rick Neuheisel and John Schriffen) spend a significant portion of the fourth quarter sizing up the coaching carousel in the SEC and the Egg Bowl. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter, @Brett_Hudson



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