This is a day late, but hey, I was a kind of tied up with that little thing they had going on in Hoover earlier this week. So let’s plow ahead and take a look at MSU’s Week 12 opponent (11th game of the season, don’t forget that earlier bye week), and it’s the final road game of the season.
Arkansas Razorbacks (Nov. 19, in Little Rock)
• Conference: SEC
• 2010 record: 10-2 (6-2, T-2nd Western Division)
• Final ranking: No. 12 AP, No. 12 USA Today, No. 8 BCS
• Coach: Bobby Petrino (23-15, three years)
• Returning starters: 15 (6 offense, 7 defense, 2 specialists)
• Last meeting: Arkansas, 38-31, 2OT (Nov. 20, 2010, in Starkville)
• On the Web: arkansasrazorbacks.com
There’s a lot to be said for having to replace a top-notch quarterback like Ryan Mallett. That can set a program back a bit, but Arkansas has so many big-time skill players returning that the loss might not be felt too keenly.
The Hogs’ four top receivers and leading rusher all return, although the question should be asked whether it was Mallett who allowed those guys to be so productive. I suppose that question will get answered this fall.
The receivers are Joe Adams (50 catches, 813 yards, 6 TDs), Greg Childs (46, 659, 6), Cobi Hamilton (32, 630, 6 TDs) and Jarius Wright (42, 788, 5). At tailback returns Knile Davis, who rushed for 1,322 yards and 13 TDs, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Responsible for distributing the ball amongst all these playmakers is junior Tyler Wilson, who in what little we’ve seen of him looked legit. When Mallett was injured against Auburn, Wilson filled in and completed 25 of 34 passes for 332 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. For the season, he was 34 of 51 for 453 yards, four TDs and three picks.
“Been very impressed with the way he’s prepared in the offseason, the leadership role that he’s working to take over,” Petrino said earlier this week.
I’d imagine there will be greater concern for the defense than the offense. It’ll be an experienced unit, and it was better last year than the year before, but it gave up 65 points to Auburn and 486 yards to MSU.
The defense has some capable leaders in end Jake Bequette (7.0 sacks, 8.5 TFL), linebacker Jerry Franklin (100 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and safety Tramain Thomas (83 tackles, four interceptions).
Lots of folks have Arkansas challenging Alabama and LSU for the West crown. Others aren’t quite buying it. Either way, it’ll be a tough test for MSU, which is 0-5-1 against Arkansas in Little Rock. We could be looking at a game with big bowl implications.
Up next: Ole Miss.