No. 17 Ole Miss will play host to No. 13 Arkansas in Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday in a battle of SEC West contenders looking to get back on track after taking tough losses last weekend. The Razorbacks followed up impressive victories over Texas A&M and No. 21 Texas with a crushing 37-0 loss to No. 2 Georgia, the first Arkansas shutout in three seasons. The Razorbacks mustered just 162 yards of offense against perhaps the nation's top defense.
Similarly, Ole Miss faced its first major test of the season against No. 1 Alabama and lost spectacularly. The 42-21 final score betrays the fact that Alabama scored the first 35 points of the game and cruised to the finish line. However, a matchup with upstart Arkansas is a perfect opportunity to redeem itself.
These two programs are both in similar positions pushing for national credibility. Over the past five seasons, Arkansas is 1-8 against top-20 opponents. The lone win came against a Mississippi State squad last season that quickly teetered off a cliff after the game. On the other side, Ole Miss has not beaten a top-10 opponent since defeating No. 10 Texas A&M in 2016.
Trench warfare: Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is an offensive line coach by trade -- maybe the best in the sport. Naturally, he's rebuilt his program from the lines up. The Razorbacks average more than seven tackles per loss per game and allowed just two sacks combined against Texas A&M and Texas. Arkansas' lines didn't hold up against Georgia, but there's no need to read too far into that. The Bulldogs might be the best team in America. Against Ole Miss, Arkansas should be able to create some havoc.
Fearless Corral: By any measure, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is one of the top signal-callers in college football. The junior ranks top 10 in passer rating and QBR, and is considered a contender for the Heisman Trophy after completing 69.6% of passes for 1,210 yards, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions through five games. Corral has nine 300-yard games over the past two seasons and has built a special relationship with top receiver Dontario Drummond, who leads the team with 382 yards receiving and four scores.
Running battle: While Arkansas quarterback K.J. Jefferson can do damage through the air, the Razorbacks are a running team at heart. Five Razorback players have rushed for at least 100 yards with running back Trelon Smith and Jefferson combining for 537 yards and five touchdowns. Arkansas is averaging 5.2 yards per carry as a team. Ole Miss defended the run well in nonconference play but allowed Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. to post 171 yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries in a featured role. If Arkansas can control the clock by sitting on the game, it will make Ole Miss' game plan much more difficult.
How to watch Arkansas vs. Ole Miss live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 9 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium -- Oxford, Mississippi
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Arkansas vs. Ole Miss prediction, picks
This could be one of the tightest games of the weekend. Arkansas has proven that it can create offensive mismatches against talented defensive linemen, but Ole Miss provides a deep passing component that the Razorbacks have yet to face this season. Similarly, Arkansas ranks much closer to Alabama than the mediocre teams Ole Miss padded stats against in nonconference play. If Vegas wants to give nearly a touchdown of buffer, I'm happy to take it. Prediction: Arkansas (+6)
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