Arkansas is 20-5 over its last 25 games for the first time since a 20-5 run back from 1988 to 1990. Alabama, Auburn and LSU are the only other schools in the SEC that have won at least 20 of their last 25 games. At 5-1 through the first six games of this campaign, Arkansas is off to its best start under head coach Bobby Petrino. The Razorbacks have been idle since October 8 when they crushed a solid Auburn squad by a 38-14 final.
"That's a good win for us," said Petrino. "I'm happy for our football team and it took the whole team to win it. We got off to a little rocky start, but defensively we played real well in the second half, shut them out and created turnovers."
The aforementioned Nutt hasn't had nearly as much to cheer about as Petrino thus far. Ole Miss is a disappointing 2-4 after losses in three of the last four games, and the team's last three defeats have all come by at least two touchdowns. Last weekend, the Rebels were clearly outclassed from start to finish in a 52-7 beating at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
"They're a good team and we made some mistakes," said Ole Miss linebacker Mike Marry after the pounding. "We can't play like that. We have to come out and limit our mistakes."
The Razorbacks hold a narrow 31-25-1 series advantage over Ole Miss, which includes a 38-24 triumph in last year's meeting.
Arkansas gets little national attention, but the team is a legitimate BCS contender, thanks in large part to its explosive offense. Despite losing its star RB just before the start of the season, the Hogs are averaging 466.2 total ypg, leading to 39.2 ppg. Tyler Wilson has been tremendous under center, completing 64.9 percent of his passes for 1,779 yards with 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Jarius Wright paces the receivers with 33 catches for 554 yards and six touchdowns, while Ronnie Wingo Jr. leads the backs with 284 yards and two touchdowns.
Arkansas is rather mediocre defensive team, yielding 21.3 ppg and 389.5 total ypg. The Razorbacks have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to stopping the run, as they are being victimized for 188.7 ypg at a clip of 5.1 ypc. The pass defense has been stronger, as opposing quarterbacks have the same amount of TD passes (six) as interceptions, while averaging a modest 10.4 yards per completion.
In the win over Auburn last time out, Arkansas posted 438 total yards and scored five offensive touchdowns, including three on the ground. Joe Adams raced 92 yards for a score and also led the team with six catches. Wilson completed 24-of-36 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
"I like the way we ran the football early on, and then Joe���s big run was huge for us," said Wilson. "It took some pressure off of me. We didn't have to throw the ball 50 times tonight."
Meanwhile, the Arkansas defense limited Auburn to 104 passing yards on 9-of-25 efficiency and came up with three interceptions. Similar success this weekend against Ole Miss seems likely, especially considering the fact that the Rebels are only averaging 20.0 ppg and 252.8 total ypg. They manage a mere 3.0 yards per rush attempt and have completed fewer than 50 percent of their passes on the season. Neither Zack Stoudt nor Randall Mackey has performed well under center for the Rebels, so Nutt is left without a reliable signal caller. Jeff Scott paces the offense with six touchdowns, and he has scored as a punt returner as well.
There is room for improvement on defense as well for Ole Miss, as the club is yielding 29.2 ppg and 442.8 total ypg. The Rebels have given up 21 touchdowns to opposing offenses, 14 of which have been rushing scores. They are surrendering 5.4 yards per rush attempt and 225.7 ypg on the ground on average, as the defensive front seven has been blown off the ball more often than not.
The game against Alabama was hard to watch for fans of the Rebels, as they saw their team victimized for 389 rushing yards at a mind-blowing clip of 9.3 yards per attempt. The Crimson Tide finished with six rushing touchdowns in that affair and 615 total yards, as they were able to complete 80 percent of their passes with no interceptions.
Ole Miss actually led the game early on, as Scott broke a scoreless tie with a one-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter. The Rebels racked up 72 yards on that drive, but they were held to 69 total yards the rest of the day.