Who will be able to shake off their week five loss against a top tier team this weekend? After getting shutout against No. 2 Georgia 37-0 last week, I’m sure Arkansas is looking to walk out of Vaught-Hemingway with a redeeming win under their belts. However, the Ole Miss Rebels lost to No. 1 Alabama 42-21 in a game many thought they had a chance to win. It’s safe to say the Rebels have a fire under their belts and an 11 a.m. kickoff isn’t going to stop them from sending those little piggies running all the way home.
In the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Oct. 2, Ole Miss received the ball in the first half and drove the ball down the field in a dominant opening drive. However, when met with a 4th and 1 at the Alabama six yard line, Lane Kiffin opted to go for it. Jerrion Ealy’s run was met with the brunt force of Alabama’s defense resulting in a zero point drive for the Rebels. After that stop on fourth down, Ole Miss could not get their offense going for the rest of the first half.
The overall defensive performance was less than ideal against Alabama, giving up the most points in a game this season along with an inability to stop Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. keeping the Rebels out of the contest. Robinson ran for 171 yards and tacked on four touchdowns. Alabama put up 451 yards on offense on Saturday, compared to Ole Miss’ 291 offensive yards.
While Matt Corral did not have a terrible outing, he was not obtaining much help from his receivers and the running game was simply not there for the Rebels. A lackluster 78 yards rushing was the lowlight of the 42-21 loss against the Crimson Tide. It’s up to the Rebels to shake off the disappointing loss and turn it around against the Razorbacks.
Last year, Arkansas got the best of the Rebels in the infamous six-interception game for Corral. Corral looked shaky, but Coach Kiffin never relinquished faith in his quarterback. After a fumble by Corral on the opening drive last year and two consecutive interceptions in the second quarter, Ole Miss found themselves down 20-0 against the Razorbacks. The second half looked to tell a different story, but every time the Rebels looked like they were competing to get back in the game, Corral would throw an interception.
Times have changed. Corral has not thrown a single interception this season, and despite the one loss to Alabama, he still threw for 213 yards and was 21 for 29 on the day. He has not fallen off and is still a dominant quarterback in college football.
In order to come out hot against Arkansas on Saturday, Corral needs the full power of his team behind him and the defense needs to make plays in order to take some pressure off of the offense. Arkansas is No. 2 in the NCAA for passing yards allowed, giving up an average of 129.8 passing yards per game. This is something the Rebels struggled with last year, but given that Corral has clearly grown as a player and a leader, it will be interesting to see if times have changed. Look for players like Ealy and Braylon Sanders to make a difference in Saturday’s game.
Arkansas was rattled against Georgia, scoring no points and getting completely embarrassed on defense. Georgia’s offense put 345 yards and 37 points on Arkansas. Before their loss to Georgia, Arkansas was on a roll, beating the likes of No. 15 Texas and No. 7 Texas A&M. Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks will take to the field and look to do exactly what Alabama did, run the ball straight down Ole Miss’ throat. So the big question is, can the Rebels stop the run?
“Well, this is the SEC and the SEC West. You go play the number one team, now you come home to a top 15 team that obviously struggled last week. Everyone has struggled, you know, Georgia’s got great players and exposes people, so prior to that (Arkansas was) playing extremely well. They run the ball really well and they don’t give up explosive plays. I think they’re second in the country in pass defense. This is a scheme we struggled with a year ago. We basically switched to it pretty much on our defense, because it’s really good and they do a great job, and they play super hard,” Kiffin said during his weekly press conference.
There’s no doubt it will be a high scoring affair and a #PartyintheSip when the Rebels return to Vaught-Hemingway on Oct. 9 against Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT and broadcasting live on ESPN.