Chad Kelly

Ole Miss knows it will have its hands full Saturday at Arkansas

Arkansas is the only team to have beaten Ole Miss twice the last two years.

The Rebels hope Saturday is a different story, obviously.

Ole Miss, ranked No. 12 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, travels to face the No. 16-ranked Razorbacks Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN. Arkansas defeated Ole Miss 53-52 a year ago — a loss that kept the Rebels out of the SEC championship game. Arkansas converted a fourth-and-25 on a miracle complete-and-heave, as well as a two-point conversion, for the win.

However, tight end Evan Engram said Ole Miss doesn’t have revenge on its mind.

“It was tough because of how it ended and knowing if we could have won that game we were going to Atlanta,” he said. “That hurt. That hurts the most, the thought of that. It was crazy. You can’t really explain it. You can’t really draw that up. It’s unexplainable. It was a tough feeling knowing we would be in Atlanta without that happening. But it’s behind us. Definitely no revenge factor going into this week about it. We just want to go win the game and keep winning. It was tough. It was crazy. But we’re not worried about it.

“Arkansas, since I’ve been here, is probably the most relentless, sound, fighting football team I’ve played here. They fight for 60 minutes and compete. They want to make big plays, and they’re going to be in the battle for 60 minutes, especially at home. They’re a tough team to beat at home. I’m looking forward to them having a lot of energy and a lot of pep in their step after a loss to Alabama to get back to a winning track.”

Evan Engram

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly said the way in which Ole Miss fell to Arkansas hurt more than a typical loss

“For five or 10 seconds we thought we had the game won,” he said. “That’s what makes this game so great, being able to play a game like this. It’s a game of inches and you just never know. You’ve got to play it to the last second.”

The Rebels are 3-2 (1-1 SEC) on the season and coming off a much-needed bye week. They’ll be meeting the Razorbacks for the 63rd time in a series that dates back to 1908. Ole Miss trails the all-time series 28-33-1.

“We’re well-recharged,” Kelly said. “Just talking to (Ole Miss strength and conditioning) coach (Paul) Jackson, he was excited to get back to it. I’m sure everybody was. Watching other teams play, it gives you that itch to want to be back out there (after) getting a week off to recuperate, refocus and make a long run.”

“We’re really confident in ourselves, but we feel really confident about the stretch we have coming up,” Engram said. “Tough road games against some great teams, it’s definitely going to be a grind, but we feel good about it. This bye week was probably the most perfect time for a bye week since I’ve been here. We’re fresh, and yesterday was a great day for everybody to get back and see how everybody feels. Everybody feels good, and we’re ready to get on the road.”

Arkansas owns a 4-2 record, with its two losses coming in SEC play to Texas A&M and Alabama. The Razorbacks average 272.0 passing yards and 176.3 rushing yards per game, and quarterback Austin Allen has been efficient and effective as a first-year starter at quarterback in place of his brother, Brandon, who graduated in 2015.

Allen ranks second in the SE can pass efficiency (158.1) behind Kelly. He’s fourth in completion percentage (63.6).

“I feel like I’m watching the same guy,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said, when asked of similarities between Austin and Brandon. “They’re extremely accurate, extremely tough. Just a really good player.”

“He’s a dangerous quarterback,” senior defensive tackle D.J. Jones said. “As you saw in the (Alabama) game, if you give him time, he can pick you apart. He had his moments in that game. He’s a great quarterback. It’s going to be exciting to play against him.”

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