Busy with other games and obligations, watching Texas A&M at Mississippi State was hit and miss, limiting knowledge of the particulars of the Bulldogs’ upset of the No. 4 team in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Upon further review of 35-28, the surprising details are highlighted by the rushing statistics recorded by both sides.
MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald ran for 184 and Aeris Williams contributed 140; A&M quarterback Trevor Knight led the Aggies with only 54 yards rushing while Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford combined for 61 on 19 carries.
Personal perspective is limited to A&M 45, Arkansas 24 in September when the Aggies held Rawleigh Williams and Devwah Whaley to 108 yards on 26 attempts and the Williams/Ford combo made 208 on 22 carries.
Trying to get a handle on the Bulldogs vs. Arkansas on Saturday in Starkville, digest those stats and peruse MSU’s other scores before getting hung up on last week’s 51-3 loss to Alabama.
Confusion is guaranteed.
Early on, the Bulldogs beat South Carolina and barely lost to LSU before the Tigers changed quarterbacks. Losing at Brigham Young in double overtime and by two to Kentucky supports the idea that the Bulldogs will compete.
Applicable to a prediction is the message repeated weekly to the coffee drinkers at the table near the front of our gym. It begins with the reminder that last week’s results do not accurately predict this week’s outcome and is followed by the citing of a recent, almost inexplicable result as evidence.
That said, Alabama, Auburn, LSU are among the top 26 in the country against the run while MSU is not in the first 80, leading to the conclusion that Arkansas will get more production from its running game, which enables play-action passing.
Offensive coordinator Dan Enos says quarterback Austin Allen must get back to being confident, comfortable, and poised. Improved protection will help.
The already published pick of Arkansas 31-13 has been amended.
ARKANSAS 31, MISSISSIPPI STATE 20
The CBS game is Missouri vs. Tennessee, underlining the lean SEC schedule on the next-to-last weekend of the season. The Tigers recorded their first conference victory last week against Vanderbilt and the Vols are 3-3 in the league.
Six teams are playing non-conference patsies and the total would be eight except Florida-LSU was postponed by Hurricane Matthew and rescheduled for Saturday.
The CBS game might be of some interest to Arkansas fans since the Razorbacks end the season the day after Thanksgiving in Columbia, Mo.
If Florida loses in Baton Rouge, Tennessee will qualify for the SEC championship game by beating Missouri on Saturday and Vanderbilt next week.
Despite a 39-point loss to Alabama in mid-October, assume the Vols want another shot at the Crimson Tide.
TENNESSEE 24, MISSOURI 13
Tennessee is one of several teams that will be in the running for the Sugar Bowl or the Citrus Bowl with a 2-0 finish.
The SEC team ranked highest after the league qualifies a team for the College Football Playoff goes to the Sugar and the Citrus has first pick of SEC teams once bowl destinations are decided for the league’s two top teams. Behind Alabama, the contenders are No. 15 Auburn with a game remaining against the Crimson Tide, No. 16 LSU, No. 19 Tennessee, No. 23 Florida, and No. 25 Texas A&M.
A “W” puts Florida in Atlanta on Dec. 3 and, coupled with a season-ending victory over Florida State, would complete a 9-2 season. A 28-point winner at Arkansas last week, LSU is 4-1 under interim head coach Ed Orgeron and finishes the regular season at A&M.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette would have missed the Florida game if it had been played in early October, but he is expected to participate on Saturday. Arkansas can testify to the skills of Fournette’s backup, Derrius Guice.
LSU 20, FLORIDA 13
Last week’s record was a pitiful 1-3. The season record is 23-12.