Arkansas Takes Aim At Mississippi State

After a break from SEC action last Saturday, the Arkansas Razorbacks return to conference play this week against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Arkansas has won five straight games including its last three league contests. It will be the 12th meeting between the two schools on the gridiron. Arkansas has won the last two meetings with last year's 17-10 victory coming in overtime. The all-time series record is tied 5-5-1.

THE RECORDS: Arkansas is 6-3 overall and 3-3 SEC after having won its last five games. The Hogs picked up a non-conference victory last Saturday with a 27-20 decision over Central Florida.

Mississippi State enters with a 2-6 overall record and a 1-5 mark in the SEC. The Bulldogs lost at Alabama 24-17 last Saturday and have lost six of their last seven games.

THE RANKINGS: Arkansas is not ranked, but is receiving votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. The Razorbacks garnered 64 points in the AP listing and would rank 30th if the poll was extended. Arkansas tallied 26 points in the coaches' poll and ranks 34th.

Mississippi State is not ranked in either national poll this week.

THE SERIES: Arkansas and Mississippi State will meet for the 12th time in history when the two teams battle this weekend in Fayetteville. The series record stands even at 5-5-1 in the previous 11 meetings.

The Razorbacks have had the upper hand in the series, as of late, winning four of the last five contests including a 17-10 overtime victory in last year's game in Starkville.

Mississippi State's last victory in the series came by a score of 22-21 at Starkville in 1998.

COVERAGE: For only the third time this season, Arkansas will not play in front of a live television audience. The Razorbacks have appeared on the tube in seven of their first nine games this year. The only other games not televised this season have been Weber State and Central Florida

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.

UA BOASTS LONGEST CURRENT SEC WINNING STREAK: Arkansas current five-game winning streak is the longest active winning string in the Southeastern Conference. The Hogs upped their streak to five last weekend with a non-conference win over UCF. Tennessee owns the second longest streak in the league with four straight wins.

Arkansas is tied with Florida for the longest current league winning streak. Both the Hogs and Gators have won their past three SEC contests.

HIGH FIVE: The Razorbacks' current string of five straight wins is the longest winning streak since 1998, when the Hogs won the first eight games under new head coach HOUSTON NUTT.

In fact, the current streak and the eight-game winning streak in 1998 are the only two times Arkansas has won as many as five straight since 1990.

HOGS IN FAYETTEVILLE: The Razorbacks are 248-95-10 (.717) in games played at Fayetteville. Arkansas has played its on-campus games at what is now Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium since 1938. The Hogs are 128-62-2 (.672) at Fayetteville since playing in their current home. The Hogs are 11-3 at Fayetteville under head coach Houston Nutt.

HOME FINALE: Arkansas has won its final home game of the season four straight years and seven times in the last eight seasons. The Razorbacks have won their final game in Fayetteville eight of the last nine years.

LAST TIME OUT: The Hogs earned a 27-20 victory over non-conference opponent Central Florida. Arkansas held a 27-13 lead late in the fourth quarter before holding off a fierce rally by the Golden Knights in the closing seconds.

FRED TALLEY rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns including a career-long 81 yard run that gave the Razorbacks their first lead of the game.

The game was tied 10-10 at halftime, but the Hogs put up two TD's in the third quarter, one on a 38-yard run by Talley and one on a nine-yard pass from ZAK CLARK to RICHARD SMITH, to take a 24-10 lead into the fourth quarter.

After an exchange of field goals made it 27-13, the Golden Knights connected on a 52-yard touchdown bomb to cut the lead to 27-20 with 3:35 remaining.

UCF forced Arkansas to punt on the ensuing possession and drove to the Razorback 16-yard line with less than a minute to play. UCF fumbled on fourth down from the 16 to seal the Arkansas victory and give the Hogs their fifth straight win of the season.

NOTING THE UCF GAME: * The Hogs' victory over UCF was the 600th win in school history. Arkansas now stands at 600-402-40 (.595) in 108 years of football. * Arkansas completed its fourth-straight non-conference season sweep. The Hogs have won their last 13 non-conference games in a row. * The Razorbacks upped their Homecoming record to 47-29-4 (.613) with the win.

LAST TIME VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE: Four quarters were not enough as the Hogs and Bulldogs need one overtime period to decide a winner.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter on a Scott Westerfield field goal and a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by Shawn Byrdsong.

Arkansas cut the lead to 10-3 in the third quarter before tying the game in the fourth on a two-yard run by BRANDON HOLMES with 1:02 left in regulation.

Holmes gave the Hogs a 17-10 lead in overtime on a seven-yard run. Mississippi State drove to Arkansas' one-yard line on the ensuing possession, but the Hogs' defense stuffed Dontae Walker on fourth-and-one to end the game.

The Arkansas defense held MSU to 206 yards of offense (138 passing & 68 rushing) and only nine first downs. Razorback tailback FRED TALLEY earned 91 yards on 25 carries before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an ACL injury.

With the victory, Arkansas halted a four-game losing streak and captured its first league road win in 10 games. The Hogs also snapped Mississippi State's 16 game home winning streak.

SHORT WEEK FOR BOTH TEAMS: Following the Arkansas game, MSU has just five days to prepare for its Nov. 22 Egg Bowl date against Ole Miss. Arkansas has just six days to get ready for the Nov. 23 game at LSU.

NO FAVOR TO BE RANKED: Being nationally ranked has its advantages, but in the recent series history of Arkansas and Mississippi State, a ranking has been anything but a privilege. In each of the past four contests, a nationally ranked squad entering the game came away with a loss.

The string started in 1997 when the Hogs toppled No. 14 Bulldogs 17-7 in Fayetteville. Mississippi State returned the favor in 1998 edging the No. 9 Hogs 22-21 on a last-second field goal in Starkville. The Hogs were ranked 22nd when they toppled No. 12 Mississippi State 14-9 in 1999. Last season, Arkansas outlasted the No. 13 Bulldogs 17-10 in an overtime thriller. Neither squad is ranked heading into this year's showdown.

BEATING THE BEST: Perhaps the most impressive part of the Razorbacks' current five-game winning streak is that it includes a trio 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 and the second setback for Ole Miss.

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 topped Ole Miss 58-56 in seven overtimes last weekend to complete the string. The Rebels entered the game tied for the lead in the SEC West with Auburn.

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.

Arkansas just missed making that streak three in a row. At the time the Razorbacks downed Ole Miss, the Rebels were just outside the polls at 26th.

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).

SENIOR SENDOFF: A total of 14 seniors will be playing their final home game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium this weekend. Those scheduled to run out through the "A" for the final time on Saturday include: D'ANDRE BERRY, JASON CAMPBELL, CURT DAVIS, JOSH FOLIART, CARLOS HALL, COREY G. HARRIS, KWEKU HAYFRON, NATHAN HENRY, SACHA LANCASTER, SHANNON MONEY, TATUM OWENBY, JERMAINE PETTY, KENNY SANDLIN and LA'ZERIUS WHITE.

In their playing tenure, Arkansas has posted a record of 29-16 (.644) including three-straight bowl games.

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).

ARKANSAS HEAD COACH HOUSTON NUTT: In his fourth year as head coach at Arkansas, HOUSTON NUTT (Oklahoma State, 1981) has compiled a record of 29-16 (.644) with a record of 16-14 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 65-38 (.631).


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