When: Noon ET/11:00 AM CT
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR
TV: SEC Network
Online streaming: WatchESPN
All-time series: Arkansas leads, 5-0
Spread: Arkansas is currently favored by 17 points
Over/under: 61.5 points
After two straight losses to TCU and Texas A&M, Arkansas is one loss away from losing its season.
Per S&P+, the Razorbacks currently have a 47.7 percent chance of winning at least six games. They’re likely an underdog in five of their remaining nine games. There is, obviously, plenty of time for the season to turn around — but there’s virtually no realistic scenario where the Razorbacks will be bowl-eligible without beating New Mexico State.
New Mexico State has never beaten Arkansas in five tries, the most recent coming in 2004, but the Aggies are considerably less cupcake-y than normal this season. They came within six points of Arizona State in the season opener (granted, a couple of late scores made the final look closer), they hung tough with a pretty good Troy team, and they have wins over rivals New Mexico and UTEP..
Can Arkansas play a complete game?
Against TCU, Arkansas did all right on the defensive side of the ball, all things considered — but the Razorbacks’ offense was nowhere to be found in a 28-7 loss.
Against Texas A&M, Arkansas had little trouble moving the ball — and the Razorbacks lost 50-43 as the defense fell apart.
When this game was scheduled, Arkansas probably saw a breather after the two tough games; New Mexico State has won 11 games, total, over the past five years. Instead, Arkansas has a potential trap game on its hands. The Razorbacks shouldn’t have too much trouble moving the ball on New Mexico State, but the Aggies have a legitimate WR in 6’6”, 215-pound Jaleel Scott, who’s averaging 14.2 yards per catch. Add in a solid running back in Larry Rose III, and New Mexico State has enough weapons to keep up with the Razorbacks. Arkansas’s defense will have to play considerably better than it did last Saturday.
How secure is Austin Allen’s hold on the QB job?
On the year, Austin Allen, the senior quarterback, has completed just 52 percent of his passes and has thrown 4 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. That’s, uh, not going to cut it.
Redshirt freshman Cole Kelley — all 6’7” and 268 pounds of him -- has attempted just five passes this season, but Arkansas has worked him into some packages. He’s run the ball four times for 21 yards, and if Allen isn’t up to snuff — well, there will be plenty of calls for the backup. We’ll be watching to see if Kelley’s role expands this week, as that could be a sign that Bret Bielema doesn’t see Allen as the long-term solution here.
New Mexico State has enough offensive weapons to keep up in a shootout, so this will come down to whether Arkansas can avoid mistakes and maybe get enough stops to break serve. After last week, I don’t trust Arkansas’s defense to completely shut down a team like this, but so long as they don’t commit turnovers, New Mexico State probably won’t be stopping them. I like Arkansas to win in a fairly high-scoring game, though I do like New Mexico State to cover the 17-point spread.
The pick: Arkansas 42, New Mexico State 28