Battle of the Mississippi

Two of the hottest teams in the SEC clash this weekend in Oxford, Miss. The Razorbacks enter the game having knocked off a pair of nationally ranked teams in their last two outings and have won three straight overall.

Arkansas beat Weber State 42-19, then upset No. 9 South Carolina 10-7 and No. 17 Auburn 42-17. The Rebels are riding a five game winning streak after defeating the LSU Tigers 35-24 in Baton Rouge last weekend. Ole Miss has averaged 36.8 points per game during that stretch.

THE RECORDS: Arkansas is 4-3 overall and 2-3 SEC after recording their second straight victory over a nationally ranked opponent last weekend. The Hogs defeated No. 17 Auburn 42-17 in Fayetteville, handing the Tigers their first conference loss of the season. Arkansas has won three straight games after starting the season 1-3.

Ole Miss stands at 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. The Rebels defeated LSU 35-24 in Baton Rouge last Saturday and have won five consecutive games. Ole Miss' only loss of the season was a 27-21 decision to Auburn on Sept. 8.

THE RANKINGS: Arkansas is not ranked, but did receive two votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

Ole Miss barely missed breaking into the rankings this week after a win at LSU. If the listing was extended, the Rebels would rank 26th in each poll. Ole Miss earned 200 points in the Associated Press listing while garnering 103 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

COVERAGE: For the ninth time in 10 games, including seven of eight games this season, Arkansas will appear on television when the Hogs battle the Ole Miss Rebels. In the aforementioned stretch only the Weber State game earlier this season wasn't televised.

The Arkansas-Ole Miss game will be televised nationally by ESPN2. The game marks the third appearance of the year for the Hogs on ESPN2. Arkansas played Tennessee and Georgia on "The Deuce" earlier this season.

DAVE BARNETT will handle play-by-play responsibilities while BILL CURRY and MIKE GOLIC provide color commentary. MICHELE TOFOYA will cover the sidelines.

PAUL EELLS will call the action on the 67-station Arkansas Razorback Sports Network. Eells is in his 24th season handling play-by-play for the Razorbacks. Former NFL tight end and Little Rock, Ark., native KEITH JACKSON is the analyst while former Hog quarterback QUINN GROVEY is the sideline reporter.

THE SERIES: Arkansas and Ole Miss have met 47 times on the gridiron with the Razorbacks holding a 24-22-1 series edge according to UA records.

The Rebels show the series at a 23-23-1 advantage for the Hogs.

In any event, Arkansas has battled Ole Miss more than any other SEC team with LSU coming in at a close second place with 45 matchups.

The discrepancy stems from the 1914 game in Little Rock which Arkansas claims a win alleging that Ole Miss used an ineligible player. The Rebels deny the allegations and count a 13-7 win on the field. As all of the participants in the game are no longer living, it's doubtful that this issue will be resolved any time soon. From 1937-1993, the Hogs and Rebels played 34 games with only one set on campus. The teams played 12 games in Memphis, Tenn., 11 in Little Rock, Ark., eight in Jackson, Miss., two in New Orleans, La., and only one in Oxford, Miss., in that span. Ole Miss has won three of the last four in the series including a 38-24 win over the Razorbacks last year in Fayetteville.

LAST TIME OUT AGAINST OLE MISS: Ole Miss picked up its first-ever win in Fayetteville with a 38-24 victory over the Hogs. Ole Miss tailback Deuce McAllister ran for 131 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns in leading the Rebels to victory.

Arkansas outgained the Rebels in yardage 109-29 in the first quarter but could not obtain the lead as the game was tied 7-7 entering the second stanza. The Rebels put up 17 points in the second quarter to take a 24-10 halftime lead.

Ole Miss scored on its first possession of the second half to lead 31-10 and added another score with 7:46 left in the game to make it a 38-10 lead. The Razorbacks scored twice in the last six minutes for the final 38-24 margin.

FRED TALLEY led the Hogs with 214 yards rushing on 29 carries and two touchdowns.

TELEVISION TIME: For the ninth time in 10 games, Arkansas will appear on television when it faces Ole Miss this weekend. ESPN2 is slated to show the Hogs and the Rebels. It will mark Arkansas' third appearance on ESPN2 this season.

The Hogs played in front of the national television cameras in the final two games of the 2000 season before appearing on the tube in seven of the first eight games of the 2001 season.

The Razorbacks' appearance on CBS Sports started the string when the Hogs downed No. 24 LSU in the 2000 season finale in Little Rock. Arkansas battled UNLV in the Las Vegas Bowl on ESPN2 last December before meeting the Rebels in a rematch in the 2001 season lidlifter on ESPN. Arkansas hosted Tennessee in a game televised by ESPN2 before battling Alabama on CBS on Sept. 22. The Hogs faced Georgia on ESPN2 on Sept. 29 before playing upsetting the No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks on CBS. Arkansas downed No. 17 Auburn on Jefferson Pilot Sports on Oct. 27.

Arkansas' season finale with LSU is the only other game scheduled for television (CBS) at this point.

Arkansas has appeared on national or regional television 164 times in its history. The Hogs own a 75-87-2 mark in those contests.

LAST TIME OUT: The floodgates opened for the Razorbacks in the fourth quarter against Auburn as Arkansas tallied 21 points in the final stanza to come away with a 42-17 victory over the 17th-ranked Tigers.

Arkansas answered an early Auburn field goal with a pair of touchdowns, a five-yard run by CEDRIC COBBS and a 21-yard catch by RICHARD SMITH, to take a 14-3 lead in the second quarter.

The Tigers narrowed the gap to 14-10 before Tony Bua picked off Auburn quarterback Daniel Cobb and returned it to the Tigers' 16-yard line with less than 15 seconds in the first half. ZAK CLARK then hit Smith for his second score of the day to put the Hogs up 21-10 at intermission.

Auburn pulled within four at 21-17 at the end of the third quarter, but the fourth belonged to the Hogs. FRED TALLEY scored from 12 yards out while MATT JONES scored on a 32-yard run to give Arkansas a 35-17 lead with five minutes left. JERMAINE PETTY then capped the scoring outburst with an 88-yard interception return for the final 42-17 victory.

NOTING THE AUBURN GAME: * Arkansas moved to 6-2 coming off an open date during the HOUSTON NUTT era. * Arkansas is now 21-3 in home games under Houston Nutt. * The Hogs' 42 points was the highest league point output in the last 18 conference games. The 42-point outing was the most since Arkansas scored a 48-14 win over South Carolina in 1999.

AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: Arkansas is 8-7 against nationally ranked teams in HOUSTON NUTT's tenure. That mark also includes a 2-2 mark against teams ranked in the top 10.

The Razorbacks are 2-1 vs. ranked teams this season. Arkansas lost to No. 8 Tennessee (3-13) before recording back-to-back wins over No. 9 South Carolina (10-7) and No. 17 Auburn (42-17).

BACK TO BACK UPSETS: For the third straight season, Arkansas recorded upsets of ranked teams in back-to-back games. The Razorbacks downed No. 9 South Carolina 10-7 on Oct. 13 in Little Rock before toppling No. 17 Auburn 42-17 on Oct. 27 in Fayetteville. The Hogs did have an open week between the two victories.

In 1999, Arkansas topped No. 3 Tennessee (28-24) and No. 12 Mississippi State (14-9) in consecutive weeks. Last season, the Hogs upset No. 13 Mississippi State (17-10) before ending the season with a win over No. 24 LSU (14-3).

BEATING THE BEST: Perhaps the most impressive part of the Razorbacks' current three-game winning streak is that it includes a pair of wins over teams that were leading their division of the Southeastern Conference at the time of the matchup. In fact, Arkansas is responsible for the first league losses on the slate of both Auburn and South Carolina.

Arkansas opened that stretch with a 10-7 upset of SEC Eastern Division leader No. 9 South Carolina. After an open date, the Razorbacks posted a 42-17 win over No. 17 Auburn, handing the SEC western division leader its first conference loss of the season.

The Hogs will try their hand at a divisional leader again this weekend. Ole Miss is 6-1 including 3-1 in the SEC. The Rebels are tied with Auburn (6-2, 4-1 SEC) for first place in the SEC West.

LEAGUE'S LONGEST WINNING STREAKS COLLIDE: When Arkansas takes on Ole Miss this weekend in Oxford, Miss., the two longest current winning streaks in the Southeastern Conference will be on the line.

The Rebels have the league's top current winning string with victories in their last five games. Ole Miss has topped Kentucky, Arkansas State, Alabama, Middle Tennesssee and LSU since losing to Auburn on Sept. 8.

Arkansas' current three-game winning streak ranks second in the conference. The Hogs have defeated Weber State, No. 9 South Carolina and No. 17 Auburn since losing a 34-23 decision at Georgia on Sept. 29.

LOOKING TO BREAK A TREND: Arkansas has lost 11 of its last 12 conference road games including both outings this season. The Razorbacks lost at Alabama (10-31) and at Georgia (23-34) this season.

Arkansas won its first two SEC road games in 1998 before dropping the last two. The Hogs went 0-4 on the road in league play in 1999. Arkansas was 1-3 on the road in 2000 before starting 0-2 this season.

The only win in that stretch came in the final road game of the 2000 season when the Hogs upset No. 13 Mississippi State 17-10 in Starkville, Miss.

ARKANSAS HEAD COACH HOUSTON NUTT: In his fourth year as head coach at Arkansas, HOUSTON NUTT (Oklahoma State, 1981) has compiled a record of 27-16 (.628) with a record of 15-14 in Southeastern Conference play.

Following back-to-back 4-7 campaigns, Nutt came in and in his first three years he posted records of 9-3, 8-4 and 6-6, and joined former coaches LOU HOLTZ (1977-83) and KEN HATFIELD (1984-98) as the only Razorback coaches to lead the Hogs to bowl games in each of their first three seasons. Holtz and Hatfield each coached Arkansas to six consecutive bowl appearances.

In his first season, 1998, Arkansas was 9-3 and shared the SEC's Western Division championship with Mississippi State. The Razorbacks played Michigan in the Florida Citrus Bowl and The Football News named Nutt National Coach of the Year.

In 1999, Arkansas beat No. 3 Tennessee and No. 12 Mississippi State during the regular season, and then dominated Texas, 27-6, in the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl as the Hogs went 8-4.

Last year, UA finished 6-6, but rallied with two wins over No. 13 MSU and No. 24 LSU in the final two regular season games to earn a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Nutt's bloodlines are in Arkansas. He grew up in Little Rock, signed with the Razorbacks in 1976 and played a year for FRANK BROYLES, then a year for Holtz as a quarterback. He started four games as a freshman. Nutt also lettered as a guard on Arkansas' basketball team in 1976-77, which went 26-2. Following his sophomore year, he transferred to Oklahoma State where he also played football and basketball.

He returned to Fayetteville as a graduate assistant on Holtz's staff in 1983 and was wide receivers coach for the Razorbacks in 1990-92. He became head coach at Murray State where his last two teams won conference championships and played in the I-AA playoffs. He led the Racers to their first-ever playoff victory.

In 1997 he moved to Boise State and posted a 5-6 record in his only year at BSU. The Broncos were 2-10 the previous season and Sports Illustrated had ranked BSU last among the 112 I-A schools in its preseason issue.

His parents, Houston Sr. and Emogene, spent 35 years teaching at the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock. His father, a 2001 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, also served as athletic director and head basketball coach. The oldest of four Nutt boys, Houston isn't the only one carrying on his father's coaching legacy. Dickey is the head basketball coach at Arkansas State, Danny is the running backs coach on Houston's staff and Dennis is the head basketball coach at Southwest Texas State.

In his ninth season as a head coach, Nutt owns an overall record of 63-38 (.624).


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