I ran across a factoid in a post on SB Nation's Mississippi State blog that I had not realized: Mississippi State "has never won in Little Rock." But it goes further than that, actually; the Bulldogs have never beaten the Hogs in the state of Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 9-0-1 in games played in their home state. And Mississippi State has to win this one to go to a bowl.
The stakes for Arkansas in this one are far more modest, but perhaps no less important. If they lose this one, then the Hogs need to win at LSU in order to avoid a winless season in the SEC. The Hogs only wins in the conference last year were the dreadful Kentucky and Auburn outfits. The last time the Hogs beat a bowl-bound SEC team was two years ago. Against Mississippi State. In Little Rock.
They can't do that this year, of course. A loss means that Mississippi State will not be going to a bowl, but a win for the Razorbacks would still mean something. No one expected Bret Bielema to light up the SEC this year -- or, at least few outside of the Arkansas fan base did -- but no coach wants to finish up his first season in the league with zero wins in the conference. It doesn't set the right tone.
And there's a little bit of hope for Arkansas this week. Not only do they have the home-field advantage, but Mississippi State isn't sure who's going to be at quarterback this week. The Bulldogs are on a three-game losing streak and have only one SEC win themselves, against Kentucky. Mississippi State has posted average numbers on offense, but that was largely before their quarterback situation turned into a triage unit.
The game might hinge more on Arkansas' offense and Mississippi State's run defense, though. The former is based heavily on the run -- which accounts for 58.5 percent of the Hogs' yardage and 60.9 percent of their offensive snaps -- and the latter has been uneven throughout the year. If it shows up as it has in some of the better games of the season, the Bulldogs will get their first win in the Natural State. If not, things get dicier.
Mississippi State 24, Arkansas 17