Associated Press

Bielema, Mullen Size up Saturday's Contest

Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen talked about Saturday's battle in Fayetteville on Wednesday's SEC Teleconference

The thing about the SEC is that you can win four games in row, feel great about beating two Top 25 foes in their own houses and celebrate the fact that you have already secured a post-season bowl.

But if you don’t turn the page quickly, you’ll get run over like a freight train and that is the point that Razorback head coach Bret Bielema has stressed to his team about this weekend’s game with No. 25 Mississippi State. 

Bielema thought he would have to play humbler this week, but it turns out that hasn’t been the case. 

“You know what, as I say that, I am not surprised that I haven’t had to,” Bielema said. “They practiced very, very intensely yesterday and I expect more of the same today.

“We will practice a couple of different segments today: Red zone, goal-line, short yardage, stuff like that that are very specific, critical moments in a game. 

“This group is a very hungry group. They have had a lot of ups and downs over the last couple of years - a lot more downs than ups. They’ve had a couple of breaks go their away over the last month and feel a resurgence of what they believe in and what they do.

“We pointed out to them the other day these things don’t happen by chance. You are treating it as you are built to do this and now let your body do what it is capable of that a lot of really, really good things can happen. 

The Razorbacks (6-4, 4-2) and Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3) will meet at 6 p.m. Saturday night in Fayetteville in a game that will be televised by ESPN.

It will be the first time that Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen will have brought his team to Fayetteville.

 “This a big game for our team and obviously a real tough to go on the road and play against Arkansas,” Mullen said. “ We haven't been to Fayetteville. The last couple of times we've played them have been over in Little Rock. 

“So kind of a new environment our guys are going into, the guys are going into for the first time. Going against an excellent football team. 

“We've got to bounce back and play pretty good football, come out and execute at a higher level and make more plays than we made last week. If we do that we give ourselves an opportunity to win.”

Bielema is a big fan of Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott and notes he has become harder to defend as he has developed his passing as well as his running.

“I would say the main thing with that is that he can throw the football very effectively and I don’t know if I would have said that as much as I would this year,” Bielema said. 

“He is throwing the ball for unprecedented yardage, he has got some skill receivers, the ability that he has to run the football is very, very good, but now he compliments it with doing the same reads, the same keys, same reaction and now being able to throw it. 

‘It is a very difficult thing to defense.”

Mullen believes that the Prescott, who was battered by nine Alabama sacks last Saturday, will bounce back this week 

“I think he handled it -- he's fine,” Mullen said. “He handled it great. One thing you saw is he never was flustered during the course of the game. I think that's the experience he has as an older, veteran player is when things are good, he's really calm. When things are not going as good, he's really calm. 

“You know, I mean he understands the game and understands what he has to do, whether we're up or down. Or you know I mean, it's coming down to the wire. Whatever it is, he just handles those situations so well.”

Mullen's team will be trying to bounce back from a 31-6 home loss to Alabama while Arkansas has not lost since taking a 27-13 defeat in Tuscaloosa.

"I’m sure our players, our coaches, our fans and myself left that game pissed," Bielema said. "We weren’t happy that we lost it. We are not into participation ribbons and trying to stay close. We had a lead at halftime and we lost it and that probably carried into the next week of our bye week. We had a really, really good, solid week.

"We got tired of saying why get here, play close and lose? Try to right this ship.  Last year we lost by a point to them. We really thought we had bridged a gap but we didn’t get a W. So we had to wait until next year.  Next year we will be at home and obviously a whole another set of circumstances.

"Our guys respect - it’s so much, so much driven out of respect. There are things in this league where maybe you don’t like people because of personalities and all that stuff. But Alabama truly is one you respect because of what they accomplished and are unprecedented in what they do and how they  approach it."

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Bielema brought up how he would like to see one week during the season where the 14 teams in the SEC would play the 14 in the Big 10.

"As a head coach I would love to see more uniformity across all divisions and all conferences as much as possible just because when we get into this playoff thing, obviously we are not in the hunt  now but we hope to be soon, is you try to make that as even as possible," Bielema said.
"I tell you a fun one to think about, I think there are 14 teams in the Big Ten and 14 in the SEC, you know kind of like the basketball challenge have a Big Ten and SEC Challenge. Let people rank them out of season and the best and the best play each other and maybe the lower ones play each other every year. 
"That would be kind of a fun one. People would get into that now. I have been in both leagues and I have the utmost respect for both. It may be something kind of fun that if you just could reserve that, that might eliminate the need for an FCS.  Maybe schedule three other opponents that are FBS and go."

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