Image Courtesy: Arkansas Razorbacks
at.Ole Miss (TBA, TBA)
Arkansas dominated Ole Miss in the first half in its sixth win of the season in 2022. Rebel QB Jaxson Dart was errant in the loss, getting hit, sacked, and tackled in the backfield making it a long night for him. If the Rebels’ offensive line shows up Dart of Oklahoma State transfer QB Spencer Sanders will be able to pick apart an Arkansas secondary that is full of veteran transfers who will have to learn how to play with each other. The most important part of this game though is the talent of both of these running games and running backs. Ole Miss tailback Quinshon Judkins led the SEC in rushing in 2022 while Arkansas’ Rocket Sanders finished second. The offensive line that can get the push they need to get their running game going will get an advantage in this game. Historically, Arkansas and Ole Miss’ defenses have only been average or worse than average. While that may not change this upcoming season, that probably means we will see another classic shootout between the rivals. KJ Jefferson had a career day in 2021 when the Razorbacks lost to the Rebels in his home state of Mississippi on an attempted two point conversion that would have won the game. If Lane Kiffin and Sam Pittman are coaching these two teams, we know another barn burner is coming in Oxford in early October. Projected Score: Ole Miss 49, Arkansas 42
at.Alabama (TBA, TBA)
Arkansas has not beaten Alabama since 2006. Sam Pittman and the Razorbacks will look to finally change that during the 2023 season. With Alabama’s questions at QB, this may be Arkansas’ best opportunity to beat the Tide on the road after only losing by a touchdown in Tuscaloosa in 2021. It will be a challenge though with the talent Nick Saban has at running back (Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams) and along the defensive front (Dallas Turner, Tim Smith, and Justin Eboigbe), and another top ranked class coming to Tuscaloosa. So, running the football will be difficult for the Razorbacks even with their talented stable of running backs. Another challenge for the Razorbacks in this match up will be KJ Jefferson and his new receivers against an Alabama secondary that returns talented corrnerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry, Terrion Arnold, and safety Malachi Moore. Can Alabama make it back to the SEC Championship and a national championship? Yes, because they are the most talented team in the country? Can they beat Arkansas again? That answer is a resounding yes until Arkansas can figure out a way to beat them. Arkansas’ best chance to beat them this year is to rattle Alabama’s new starter under center whether that is Ty Simpson, Jalen Milroe, or Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner.
Projected Score: Alabama 42, Arkansas 28
Mississippi State (TBA, TBA)
The Arkansas-Mississippi State series has been one of the most competitive match ups as of late in the SEC. Sam Pittman won his first SEC game as head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks on October 3, 2020 when Arkansas beat Mississippi State, 21-14 in Starkville. A year later, the KJ Jefferson-Will Rogers battle the two fanbases got in Fayetteville two seasons ago was a spectacular game. The two sides traded scores and the team that had the ball last, Arkansas won the game in the final seconds with a Dominique Johnson rushing touchdown. With KJ Jefferson sidelined last season with an injury when the Razorbacks traveled to Starkville to face Mississippi State during the 2022 season, Bulldogs QB Rogers put together another great performance, leading his team to a dominant win, an irregularity in the series between the programs. This season, with KJ Jefferson and Will Rogers primed for big senior seasons, the Arkansas-Mississippi State game will hopefully emerge at the end of October with both teams in good standing without injuries. Zach Arnett, the previous defensive coordinator of the Bulldogs, has taken over for the legenadary Mike Leach, who tragically passed in December. With Arnett’s defensive mind in as the new head coach, many are wondering if Mississippi State’s fast pace passing offense can keep going as it is. To me, it is hard to believe it will slow down with veteran receivers Lideatrick Griffin, Justin Robinson, and Jaden Walley by his side in addition to tailback Jo’quavious Marks. This Bulldog offense will definitely be a chore for an Arkansas defense full of new faces. For Arkansas’ offense, they could take advantage of Mississippi State’s inexperience on defense, as the Bulldogs return just four players on that side of the ball. This is a game Arkansas needs to stay in the SEC West race and they should get it going into the open week.
Projected Score: Arkansas Arkansas 45, Mississippi State 35
(October 28 is the Razorbacks’ open week)