• The matchup: Arkansas (4-6, 2-4 SEC) at MSU (7-3, 3-3)
• The kickoff: 11:21 a.m., SEC Network
• The weather: A beautiful day is in store, with sunny skies and a high of 65 degrees in the forecast for Saturday. Perfect.
• The line: MSU –6 to –7
The Bulldogs are trying to shake off a three-game losing streak, something it has experienced only one other time under Dan Mullen, in 2009. So this is a new deal for several players, and maturity will have as much as anything to do with MSU’s ability to bounce back. Is that maturity present? Senior defensive tackle Josh Boyd believes so.
“A few years ago, two years ago, if we lost three games in a row, everybody in practice would be down, and it wouldn’t be a good mood,” he said. “Now it’s like, OK, we’ve got to get back to work. We’ve got to work harder.”
MSU needs to fix a lot of issues this week, such as the running game and communication issues in the secondary. Arkansas has its own share of issues, of course, like pass defense and a consistent rushing attack, and the offensive line has let QB Tyler Wilson take too many hits. He’s been sacked seven times over the last three games (Ole Miss, Tulsa and South Carolina).
This game would seem to boil down to MSU’s ability to limit Wilson’s impact. We’ve seen State’s defense struggle against the pass during this losing skid, with opponents completing 73.1 percent of their passes for 840 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Picking off passes is something MSU is normally good at, and Wilson has thrown 10 INTs this season, so that’s something to watch for.
As far as the Bulldogs’ running game, it could be tough sledding against Arkansas, which is allowing just 119.7 ground yards per game. That ranks fifth in the SEC and 23rd in the country. MSU has averaged 64 rushing yards over its last three games.
If you’re into intangibles, it’s senior day for the Bulldogs on Saturday. Emotions and adrenaline will be at peak levels, and that can be either good or bad depending on how MSU harnesses it. I think they’ll be fine.
• The prediction: MSU 34, Arkansas 24.