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Ole Miss Rebels vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Prediction

I'll start off by copying my brief preview from the Arkansas Expats Blogger Q&A segment and pasting it here.

Honestly, here's what I expect to happen. I'd actually guess that Ole Miss jumps out to an early lead. Maybe 10-0. Nutt will prepare for this game like no other (not that pre-game preparation is really his strong suit). He'll punch Arkansas in the mouth early. However, I expect Arkansas to then answer with a few touchdowns and end up nursing a 7-10 point lead for the rest of the game. With these offenses, I wouldn't begin to predict a final score, but 21 points won't win this one for either team.

I sure hope another late-season rally is on the horizon. It's possible, I guess. Our last four games are against Tennessee, Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, and Mississippi State. None of those are sure losses, but only one is a sure win (there's a joke about Jacksonville State here that I just don't want to develop). If we can get to bowl eligibility after such a rough start, I think that will be a good sign for the strength of the program. Other than Masoli, we barely lose anything on offense to graduation. Our defense, on the other hand, faces another year of rebuilding or at least reloading next year.

Follow me through the jump to see some analysis.

Obviously stopping the Razorback offense will be a big struggle for the Rebels as Arkansas is 5th in the conference in scoring offense at 32.2 points per game and 2nd in total offense at 480 yards per game. Arkansas' offensive attack also doesn't play into our strength of stopping the run as the Razorbacks are last in the league in rushing yards (113 per game) and first in passing yards (366 per game). Our young secondary will really have to step up for us to have any legitimate chance in this one.

Ryan Mallett has been prolific this year, passing for 307 yards per game. His TD:INT ratio is 2:1 which is pretty good but not incredible. Mallett has always struggled in taking some strength off of his short throws, and hopefully that is something on which we can capitalize. It's going to take an off day from the twenty-foot quarterback for the Rebels to win this one.

As for receivers, the Razorbacks have plenty. Greg Childs and Joe Adams have a relatively even split for the lead  at just over 80 yards per game each. Jarius Wright is a very capable receiver as well who is just hitting his stride. Tight end DJ Williams is as good as they come in terms of big men who can catch. He's being used a good bit and averages over 40 yards per game.

The running back tandem of Knile Davis and Ronnie Wingo both average 6+ yards per carry and could be quite formidable. Strangely enough, former USC Trojan Broderick Green has more carries than Davis and Wingo combined despite averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. I know that the ypcs of short yardage backs aren't going ot equal those of the speed guys, but 3.2 is just ridiculously low. Hopefully the Rebels can stop the Razorbacks from being two dimensional. We're not going to be able to totally shut down the pass. We know that. For that reason, we can't also allow them to run well.

The Razorbacks have a strong offensive line that blocks well, and it will be a challenge for Jerrell and company. Despite passing the most of any SEC team by far, Arkansas has only allowed the fifth most sacks. That has to change on Saturday. Ryan Mallett needs to be hit several times early. I'm looking at you Gerald Rivers.

The Razorback defense is certainly less formidable, but don't get tricked into believing that they're terrible. They rank 7th in scoring defense at 23.3 points allowed per game and a very respectable 5th in total defense with 330 yards allowed per game. Their rush defense leaves something to be desired at 167.2 yards per game allowed (good for tenth in the conference), but their pass defense ranks second in the SEC with only 163 yards given up through the air each game. Arkansas is also rushing the passer well, logging the third most sacks with 19 through six games. Defensive End (and GWH) Jake Bequette is their biggest pass rushing threat with four sacks already this year. Jerry Franklin and Jericho Nelson are a good tackling pair of linebackers as they're #1 and 2 on the team in tackles. When your first and second leading tacklers are linebackers, you have to be doing something right on defense. I'd like to see us run right at them with Brandon Bolden, but I'm sure that won't happen. I just hope that we don't come out with the same "throw the ball on every down" mindset that hurt us so much in the first half against Alabama.

Arkansas ranks last in kickoff coverage, is the most penalized team in the conference, ranks last in turnover margin, and has been outscored 59 to 32 in the fourth quarter this season, so maybe the lesser stats are in our favor, but I really don't see us winning this one. I'll be glad if I'm wrong, but this just doesn't set up well for the Rebels.

Razorbacks by 10. What's your prediction?