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davis_wade_stadiumTomorrow will mark the first time since 2001, that 2 ranked opponents have squared off on the surface of Scott Field. #13 Arkansas comes to town as one of the hottest teams in the SEC, and are winners of 4 straight.

#21 MSU, is trying to build on their 7 win season, and is coming off a loss to Bama, that snapped a 6 game winning streak. Even though there is only 5 losses between the 2 teams, neither is eligible for the SEC Championship game, but both are focused on bettering their postseason bowl destinations. Want a history lesson?

  • Arkansas leads series 13-6-1
  • Average Score-  Ark  22  MSU  16
  • Last 2 Meetings- (2009) Ark  42-21  (2008)  MSU  31-28
  • MSU is 4-5vs Arkansas in Starkville

With history aside, let's take a look at what the experts are saying about the Hogs and Dogs. As always we will be referring to what the odds-makers at College Gameday Stats has to say. Info@collegegamedaystats.com

  • MSU Scoring vs Ark Opponent Scoring: Advantage Hogs
  • MSU Pass Off. vs Ark Pass Def.: Advantage Hogs
  • MSU Rush Off. vs Ark Pass Def.: Advantage Bulldogs
  • Ark Scoring vs MSU Opponent Scoring: No Advantage
  • Ark Pass Off. vs MSU Pass Def.: Advantage Hogs
  • Ark Rush Off. vs MSU Rush Def.: Advantage Bulldogs
  • College Gameday Stats Pick:  MSU

 Keys to Victory

(1) Run-Dawgs-Run: State faces the most explosive offense they've seen all year in Arkansas' on Saturday. With as much that is said about Arkansas' ability to score with relative ease, one thing that is ignored is their ability to control the clock when they want to. State has done an excellent job of keeping the ball away from most teams, by wearing down defenses with their 18th ranked rushing attack. But as much as people focus on that aspect of State's game plan, the Hogs rank just one spot below the Bulldogs in Time of Possession. State needs to run the football effectively, and keep the chains moving. Just weeks ago, it was the UK Wildcats that gave the Dawgs a dose of their own medicine, rushing the football and eating up clock. State cannot allow that to happen on Saturday. This game comes down to one thing for MSU, and that's the play of the OL. JC Brignone and Derek Sherrod will be taking Scott Field for the final time on Saturday, and they will have to be the catalyst for State. QB Chris Relf, RB Vick Ballard, and RB LaDarious Perkins will have to have success in running the option. And, I would like to see short passes to those RBs, as an extension of the run game. Even in a 30-10 loss to Bama, there were some nice blocks and runs at times. State had some success on 3rd Downs (50%), and Ballard and Perkins were just a step away from breaking loose on more than one occasion. If the Dawgs take those positives into account, and the fact that they are on their home turf (5-1 at home), good things could happen. State needs 5 guys doing their job, so that they can impose their will on the Hogs. Doing just that, will keep the ball away from Arkansas' Ryan Mallet and RB Kniles Davis. Running the ball also means minimizing room for mistakes such as turnovers. The last thing we need, is to Mallet with extra possessions and opportunities. Hand it off, and as my dad says, "Let that dog eat!"

(2) Redzone Focus: State's D has to buckle down on the Arkansas Offense inside the 20 yd line. The Hogs have scored on 37 of 40 opportunities in the redzone this season, good for 92.5%. On the other hand, State must take advantage of Arkansas' Defense in the the redzone, where the Hogs give up scores 85% of the time (23-27). State has failed to convert trips into points this season Offense, only scoring 77% of the time (27-35). Mann Diaz's D though, is doing a nice job of only allowing scores 73% of the time (22-30). Which I believe is good for 3rd in the conference.

(3) DL Must Pressure Mallet: Arkansas has an outstanding QB in Mallet, but they also have a number of dangerous targets. WRs Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Cobi Hamilton, TE DJ Williams, all have right at 400 yards receiving or more. And, to make it worse, RBs Ronnie Wingo and Kniles Davis have good hands, and are dangerous in open space. The Bulldogs will have to pressure Mallet up front, and attack him before the likes of Adams and Wright can break away from coverage. Petrino does an excellent job of misdirecting opposing defenses-not with the run, but with the pass. State cannot allow sections of the field to go unmanned. Manny Diaz must make sure that Mallet is getting hit in pressure situations, not just hurried. The 6-6 QB, has struggled after taking a few hits during the past 2 seasons, and the Dawgs must attack early and often. Doing so, has the ability to force QBs into mistakes, which State will need a few of on Saturday.

(4) Win the Special Teams' Battle:As important as Offense and Defense is to a game, Special Teams is KEY. It's what happens on plays in this facet, that can earn you points, or set the stage for the upcoming possession. P Heath Hutchins has to keep the field position tuggle in MSU's favor, and we cannot afford to give Mallet the short field. State needs to stay true in punt coverage, where the Bulldogs have only given up 52 yds all year. One major area, K Sean Brauchle must stay away from kicking the ball out of bounds on kick offs. Believe or not, but MSU only allows 22 yds per return on kick offs, but it's the depth of the kick that usually makes things appear worse than they are. PK Derek DePasquale is on fire in his last 3 games, hitting 7 straight FGs. We will need everything we can get, and I see De-Paq playing a major role on Saturday night. As for our kick off return team, Perkins and Bumphis have to run with a purpose and brains. Bumphis has appeared very hesitant this season in accerlating and avoiding contact. Perkins on the other hand, just needs a few blocks, and State will start at the 45-50 all night. Like I said, run with purpose.

(5) Must Be Able to Throw the Ball: It sounds so simple doesn't it? But, for MSU passing is not a strength for starting QB Chris Relf. I expect Arkansas to stack the box, since they know as well as we do, that we want to run the ball and control the clock. That means that we are going to have some opportunities to make plays in the passing game, and we must. Les Koenning needs to keep it simple, and RUSH the ball on 1st Downs. Short, high percentage passes are what we need to try and execute. Use the screen game to our advantage, slants, drags, and outs as well. Many people think that Tyler Russell makes us one-dimensional, but might I remind them that on ALL of Tyler Russell's scoring drives this season, State had a big run on the drive (20+ yds). I wonder if we will see more of Tyler on Saturday? By that I mean a series or two more. 

(6) Make the Play: The Bulldogs' play at homethis year hasn't been the prettiest, but it's been clutch when we needed it. Be it a timely forced fumble, interception, sack, catch, or 3rd Down run, the Dawgs have come through in Davis Wade Stadium (5-1). We can't have drops in the passing game or in the Defensive secondary; if there's a loose ball we have to claim it; make our kicks; make good choices in the option and passing game.

(7) Get Loud: And finally, as fans we have to BRING THE NOISE! I was impressed with the level of noise we created vs UK. We'll need that again. We are on ESPN, as in ESPN 1 these days, so let's help our team show out.

My Thoughts: Something tells me that our Seniors will not allow State to lose this one. JC Brignone and Derek Sherrod, who anchor the O-Line, will be looking to make Saturday's game (their last in Davis Wade), one for the ages. FB Patrick Hanharan, who is also responsible for much of the Dawgs' success on the ground, will lead the charge as well. On Defense, 2 of the best in recent years to put on an Maroon jersey will do so for the last time (depending on location of the bowl game), in LBs Chris White and KJ Wright. Their intensity and leadership on D, has propelled the Dawgs thus far, and I don't see a drop off coming on Saturday. DE Pernell McPhee has had much more of a quiet career at State than anyone imagined, but I think he will pressure Mallet non-stop. I mentioned 2 weeks ago, that even though State has won 7 games, that not adding to that win total would result in disappointment. I think the Bulldogs know that, and will come into the Arkansas game ready to play. They have the opportunity to end up as a mediocre team, with just 8 wins to their name, OR as one to be remembered throughout MSU history. State could truly turn 'the corner' with a WIN against the Hogs, find themselves in a much better bowl game, and lay the foundation for those to come. Do it for Bell and Berry!

My Prediction:  Hogs  28  Dogs  24. That's my score prediction, but keep in mind that I'm being superstitious and picking the Hogs to win, so that State can (not really, actually I am, you get the picture). My superstitions also keep me from making my individual performance predictions, but I hope you do.

Your Prediction? Keys to Victory?

 

______SEC Weekend______

TSUN @ LSU   31-10

UT@ Vandy  34-17

Troy  @  South Car  42-13

Appl. State  @  UF  31-14 

WHO ya got?

 

In case yall missed it this week, which I think a lot of you did...

-Here's some of the expansion ideas for Davis Wade. (Thanks, Buzzard) Link

-There have been some breaks in the Cam Newton story. Here's an in-depth look at Auburn, Dirty Money, Football, and Politics. Link

-Kenny Rodger's lawyer, confirms that Cecil Newton was involved in soliciting money. Link

-We also talked about HOW desperate Houston Nutt's speech was on Monday.

-And we also talked about how much playing time that Tyler Russell should get.

-The Men's B-Ball team is in action on Friday night vs Appl. State. Link

You can comment on any of those items as well.

Go Dawgs!!!