The #13 Arkansas Razorbacks (4-1) are the feel-good story of the 2021 college football season. With shocking upsets over #15 Texas and #7 Texas A&M and head coach Sam Pittman's story of feeling destined to be the coach of the Razorbacks, people are happy that this team rose from the bottom of the SEC barrel to be a serious contender.
The Razorbacks got their biggest national exposure last weekend when they traveled to Athens to lose the #2 Georgia Bulldogs 37-0.
Their feel-good story won't end with their tough loss to the Bulldogs, however. This weekend, the Razorbacks will travel to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the #17 Ole Miss Rebels (3-1). The Rebels are looking to salvage the season after their loss on the road last week in Tuscaloosa to the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0).
The biggest matchup of the game will be between the aggressive and efficient defense of the Razorbacks and the high-volume, explosive offense of the Rebels. Ole Miss's offense is currently ranked fifth in the nation in points per game (44.8) and fourth in the nation in total yards accounted for (549.3).
Rebels quarterback Matt Corral is a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy as he has passed for 1,210 yards, ten touchdowns, no interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 177.3 on 87 completions (out of 125 passing attempts). He has also rushed for 161 yards and six touchdowns on 43 rushing attempts. Corral is a playmaker that is utilizing the fast-paced, high-tempo offense of the Rebels created by head coach Lane Kiffin.
The defense for the Razorbacks has allowed an average of 19 points per game (32nd in the nation) this season. Their rank was lower until they allowed 37 points to Georgia last week. The defense of the Razorbacks allowed 273 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 56 rushing attempts for an average of 4.9 yards per rush. Georgia's offensive line constantly overpowered the line of scrimmage and continually pushed the defensive line of Arkansas.
This Saturday, Arkansas's defensive line will get a second chance to rebound against an explosive, but vulnerable offense of Ole Miss. The Razorbacks do not have to send out several blitzing schemes to stall the offense of Ole Miss. Alabama's defense made Ole Miss utilize short-to-mid-range passing plays last week. The Razorbacks have been highly efficient stopping quick passing plays this season against the offense of Texas and Texas A&M. If Arkansas can force Ole Miss to beat them with short plays, linebackers Bumper Pool, Hayden Henry and Grant Morgan will have a great chance to shut down a high-power offense.
On the other side of the ball, Arkansas will have a chance to rebound from their worst offensive performance yet last weekend. Arkansas only accounted for 162 total yards with 87 yards from the passing game and 76 yards from the rushing game last Saturday. The Razorbacks' offense will face a Rebels' defense that is ranked 80th in the nation in points allowed per game (26). Ole Miss has allowed at least 17 points each game this season.
The Rebels have allowed 210 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground on 50 carries so far this season. The Razorbacks can find their offensive rhythm early through their rushing game.
Running back Trelon Smith will look for a big rebound game this weekend. Smith has rushed for 302 yards and three touchdowns on 62 carries.
The biggest key of the game on this side of the ball is the efficiency of the offensive line and how much they create a push at the line of scrimmage.
According to ESPN, the Razorbacks are coming into this game against Ole Miss as a 5.5-point underdog. This is the fourth time that Arkansas is going into a game as the underdog, but they are 2-1 when the odds are projected against them.