Tyler Russell passed for 274 yards and four touchdowns as Mississippi State rallied with 38 unanswered points and kicked more dirt on the Arkansas season with a 45-14 win before 54,836 fans at Davis Wade Stadium.
"We had a really good first half and we were in the game," Razorback quarterback Tyler Wilson said. "I thought a number of those guys in the locker room thought we had a chance of winning. We came out in the second half and turnovers really changed the game. They took advantage of our turnovers and scored a lot more points than we did."
The third straight loss also officially ended any minor bowl hopes for the Razorbacks (4-7, 2-5), who host LSU on Friday when the 2012 season will be put to rest.
Arkansas jumped to a 14-7 lead and then the turnovers began, five in total to push the season list to 29. There were 15 interceptions, 14 fumbles.
In fact, the Razorbacks last 12 possession of the game included five punts, three fumbles, two interceptions, one turnover on downs and the clock ran out on their final drive.
"It was the tale of two halves, which has been the story of the year," Arkansas head coach John L. Smith said. "We played good in the first half; the turnover battle was equal in the first half as we traded one-for-one. That is why we were in the game.
"I felt in the second half if we kept the turnover battle equal or even picked one up, that we would end up winning the game," Smith added. "We ended up losing the turnover battle in the second half that that is the story of the game."
Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3) had suffered a humbling 44-17 loss to Arkansas in Little Rock last season and had lost the last three games in the series to the Razorbacks.
But the Bulldogs – who ended a three-game losing streak this season with the win – put up the most points they had ever scored in the series.
"We had a great win today for our kids," Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. "We made some big plays, created some turnovers and took advantage of those turnovers. We knew we would have to play hard for all 60 minutes and we did."
The victory came on Mississippi State's senior day as the Bulldogs honored late player Nick Bell - who would have been a senior.
"I am really proud of our senior class and what they have accomplished in their time here," Mullen said. "Four years ago, these guys took the opportunity to be a part of what we were trying to build and they have done a fabulous job. I want to thank our fan base for all they have done to give us a home field advantage that is so crucial in the Southeastern Conference.
"Great day, great win for our seniors and it is great to be back in the winning side," Mullen added.
Arkansas also had a 14-10 lead early in the second quarter in last season's game with Mississippi State, but kept scoring while rolling a 539-211 total offense advantage.
In this season's game in Starkville, the Bulldogs poured it on with 505 yards total offense to the Razorbacks' 359.
Wilson – who completed his first 10 passes on those first two scoring drives – finished the day 23-of-29 passing for 225 yards with two touchdowns, a pair of picks and a pair of sacks.
Dennis Johnson carried 15 times for 88 yards while fellow senior Cobi Hamilton had seven catches for 88 yard and a score – his first since Rutgers in week four.
Hamilton, who has caught a pass in a SEC-best 33 straight games, moved into second in school history in all-time catches with 165 and increased his single season records for catches (80) and yards (1,237).
Perkins had 17 carries for 91 yards and also caught three passes for 40 yards and the two scores while Bumphis hauled in six catches for 82 yards.
"It was fun," Bumphis said. "As seniors, we wanted to exit on a big note."
Smith said his team wore down as the game went on.
"We wore down defensively and Mississippi State was able to throw the ball on us and run the ball on us," Smith said. "They did a good job; you have to give them credit. They're an awfully good football team. They are well coached and know where to go."
Mississippi State scored on the game's opening possession when Russell hit Perkins with a 13-yard TD pass to cap a 15-play, 75-yard drive.
The play was reviewed, but held up and Devon Bell's PAT pushed the Bulldogs ahead 7-0 with 9:32 left in the opening quarter.
Arkansas also found the end zone on its first possession – an 11-play, 86-yard jaunt - with Wilson hitting a wide open Hamilton for 30 yards and the score.
The Razorbacks then took the lead early in second quarter when Wilson dumped a pass off to Johnson and he raced in from 7 yards out. That culminated a 10-play, 76-yard scoring drive.
The Arkansas defense forced Mississippi State to punt on the ensuing possession, but new returner Kaelon Kellybrew fumbled and the Bulldogs pounced on it. Bell's 39-yard field goal cut it to 14-10 with 9:38 remaining before intermission.
"After a poor start early in the game with our defense, I thought we made a lot of plays," Mullen said. "I give our staff credit. They overcame dealing with me and sometimes on the sideline I can be a rough dude to deal with. I get fired up, but they did a great job and made some small adjustments while sticking to the game plan."
The Bulldogs then took the lead 17-14 on Russell's 6-yard pass to Bumphis and Bell's PAT with 4:48 remaining.
They had a chance to add to that, but Arkansas freshman cornerback Will Hines forced a Bumphis fumble inside the 10.
"We were frustrated because we didn't play our best in the first half, but Coach Mullen made adjustments and we executed better," Bumphis said.
Wilson was picked off to start the Razorbacks' first possession of the third quarter and it went all downhill from there.
The Bulldogs scored on Dak Prescott's 4-yard run and Russell's 24-yard hook-up with Perkins before the third quarter ended.
Russell than added a 22-yard scoring toss to Bumphis early in the fourth quarter and Nick Griffin capped the scoring with a 60-yard dash with 12:22 left in the contest.
"We got up and our guys started playing with a lot more confidence," Mullen said.
It left Wilson thinking about how tough the year has been as the Razorbacks are ahead of only Auburn (2-8, 0-7) in the Western Division standings.
"It's been tough," Wilson said. "Sometimes it is a test of your character, who you are deep down inside and how long you can stay positive. I feel lucky to go out and play football every day. I could be in a much different situation. So as far as positive goes, that's how I look at it."
Arkansas will host LSU Friday at 1:30 p.m. in Fayetteville in a game that will be televised nationally by CBS.
"Our seniors have done a great job," Razorback center Travis Swanson said. "They've put in four or five good years. Our goal next week is to play well for them."
Otha Peters (5) tries to catch MSU's Chad Bumphius
Tyler Wilson scrambles against the Bulldogs.
Mekale McKay is by MSU's Cameron Lawrence after a catch in the first half.
Rohan Gaines hits MSU receiver Robert Johnson after a catch. Gaines was flagged for a personal foul on the play.
Cobi Hamilton hauls in a touchdown catch in the first quarter.
Javontee Herndon makes a cut past MSU's Nickoe Whitley after a catch.
Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell throws a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Wilson is sacked by MSU's Preston Smith in the fourth quarter.
Photo by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated