The Arkansas Razorbacks nearly wore another SEC power down with their running game, but No. 1 Mississippi State would just not go down. The Bulldogs recovered from an early 10-0 deficit to win 17-10 in Starkville Saturday night.
Arkansas took a 10-7 lead into halftime despite being outgained 217-160 by the Bulldogs, in large part thanks to three Mississippi State turnovers. The Razorbacks were only able to turn those takeaways into seven points -- Alex Collins's one-yard touchdown -- and could have been leading by a larger margin at the break.
Arkansas punished Mississippi State off the line, controlling the time of possession battle with lengthy drives that rarely resulted in points. The Razorbacks recorded four drives of at least four minutes in length, combining for a grand total of three points.
The Razorbacks' ability to hold on to the ball limited the Bulldogs' opportunities, but Mississippi State utilized Dak Prescott's power-running game to convert on eight of 14 third down conversions.
Tied at 10-10, Arkansas missed a chance to take the lead back when Adam McFain missed a 41-yard field goal. Then, Prescott and Mississippi State finally struck their winning blow, finding Fred Ross for a 69-yard touchdown to take the Bulldogs' first lead.
Arkansas took a long drive down the field to respond...and again got nothing out of it, being stuffed by the Bulldogs' defense on fourth-and-goal. They had one last drive to tie it up, making it all the way into the red zone, but a Mississippi State interception finally sealed it.
Three things we learned
1. When is MSU going to dominate like a No. 1 team should? Arkansas has played a lot of good teams close, but Mississippi State is supposed to be the top team in the country. They can't beat a team winless in conference play by more than a score? Their last three wins have been...kind of comfortable (one notably coming against Auburn), but they haven't quite put away teams like we've come to expect top-ranked schools to do. Part of that's the depth of the SEC -- we'll see how they fare against UT Martin next week.
2. Dak Prescott salvaged another Heisman moment. Two interceptions in a Mississippi State loss would have all but eliminated the quarterback from contention, but his perfect 69-yard game-winning touchdown strike will likely keep him on top of the leaderboards.
Prescott set a career-high in passing yards, completing 18 of 31 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown (with two first half interceptions). He was mostly stifled in the running game, carrying 13 times for 61 yards with no rush longer than 12 yards, but was effective in third-and-short situations.
3. Arkansas is undoubtedly the best team without a conference win. Tennessee has an argument, but the Razorbacks have played every SEC opponent close -- and every single one has been ranked in the top 10 when they played. Bret Bielema is building something in Fayetteville, and while it hasn't resulted in a conference win quite yet, remaining opponents LSU, Ole Miss and Missouri better be ready for a slugfest.