FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks announced on Wednesday that their home game in Little Rock next season will be played against Ole Miss on Oct. 13 at War Memorial Stadium.
The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville was contractually obligated to play a conference game at War Memorial Stadium during the 70th anniversary of the stadium built in 1948 in what is the last year of its current contract.
Negotiations about the future of games in Little Rock are ongoing, officials on both sides said recently.
"We are thrilled to have an SEC game back at War Memorial next fall, especially one that pits the Razorbacks against Ole Miss," Arkansas Director of Parks and Tourism Kane Webb said in a UA release. "Given the tradition and decades-long rivalry the Hogs have had with the Rebels, including some great games in Little Rock, it's a fitting match-up as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the stadium. I look forward to a festive atmosphere, a great turnout, and a great time in the capital city."
Interim Arkansas Athletic Director Julie Cromer Peoples spoke fondly last week about what games in Little Rock mean to the university and the football program.
"It's a special part of who we are as Razorbacks, and the chancellor and I will work together on a long-term recommendation for that partnership," Cromer Peoples said.
Arkansas' 6-0 victory over Ole Miss at War Memorial Stadium on Oct. 23, 1954, before an overflow crowd of 38,000 fans is widely seen as the game that helped make the Razorbacks a national name. Arkansas won the game on a 66-yard touchdown pass from Buddy Bob Benson to Preston Carpenter on a play Coach Bowden Wyatt called the "Powder River Play," named for a river in Wyoming, where Wyatt coached before coming to Arkansas.
Ole Miss is 8-6-1 at War Memorial Stadium and has won the last three games there -- including victories of 17-3 in 1992 and 30-27 in 2012 -- since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992. The Razorbacks' last victory over the Rebels at War Memorial Stadium was a 21-13 decision in 1988.
Next year's game will represent the 110th anniversary in the series between Arkansas and Ole Miss, with the Razorbacks winning the first meeting 33-0 in Fayetteville.
In the future
Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema, asked if there was uncertainty about what his future holds, reiterated on Wednesday's SEC teleconference he's going full bore on his weekend plans.
"Well, I know what the future holds," Bielema said. "Tomorrow I'm going to get up and get ourselves ready for Friday's game. Friday's game will play out. Saturday I plan on going recruiting.
"That's everything I've been told to do. I'm planning to build a team as best we can for the future and nothing will vary from that. If something changes that's obviously going to be new information and we'll process it at the time."
Bielema said the growing speculation about his tenure has not been a big distraction for the coaching staff or players.
"I'm sure I'll have a talk with people who need to know shortly thereafter [Friday's game], but it's been really easy to focus because our administration, our upper people here at the U of A have been absolutely awesome.
"We're planning on recruiting on Friday and Saturday and going full speed ahead. I know the outside world always has voices, but that's all they are. It's pretty easy."
The status of receiver Jonathan Nance might not be determined until game time, Coach Bret Bielema said Wednesday. Nance injured his knee and ankle late in the fourth quarter at the end of his 1-yard run from the Wildcat formation. Nance was scheduled to participate to some degree at Wednesday's practice.
"As a wide receiver, everything he has to do has to be full speed, so a little bit will be determined by what we see today," Bielema said. "He's gotten better every day and spent a lot of time in the training room."
Bielema said kick returner De'Vion Warren cleared concussion protocol Wednesday morning and was expected to practice.
Offensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Zach Rogers, who both had leg injuries last week, are expected to play Friday.
Storey No. 2
Bret Bielema said redshirt sophomore Ty Storey has been the No. 2 quarterback behind senior Austin Allen this week, though a determination would be made later as to whether Storey or true freshman Cole Kelley would be the top reserve.
"Ty has had a really good week of practice again, and Cole is still a little bit limited with that foot," Bielema said in reference to Kelley's 2-week-old turf toe injury.
"Obviously Austin is going to start, but the next go-to guy will be determined in the next 48 hours and will be determined by how those guys handle it," he said.
Friday is projected to be a mostly sunny day with a high temperature of 67 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain, according to The Weather Channel. This will follow a projected overnight low of 38 degrees with mostly clear skies during the overnight hours. The wind could be a minor issue for the 1:30 p.m. kickoff of Missouri at Arkansas, as it is expected to top out at about 13 miles per hour.
Missouri defensive lineman Akial Byers, a freshman from Fayetteville, missed a month of practice after suffering a strained left knee in late August, but he's come back to play in six games and has three tackles and a pass breakup.
"Akial has had a really good year for a true freshman at the spot we're playing him on the defensive line," Tigers Coach Barry Odom said. "He's continuing to mature and understand the speed that it takes. ... Now he's playing meaningful snaps and doing a really good job."
Taylor Powell, a freshman from Fayetteville, has been Missouri's scout-team quarterback all season while he's redshirting.
That means Powell has been imitating Arkansas senior Austin Allen, the quarterback he replaced as the starter at Fayetteville.
"I haven't done a big study on that, but I'm sure it's a fairly unique situation," Missouri Coach Barry Odom said. "But Taylor's got a great skill set. He prides himself in watching the other quarterback and using the same body language, the same mannerisms. He tries to do that each week as the quarterback we're going to face.
"He's done a heck of a job and he's a tremendous young player that's going to have a great career. He's very focused and very determined and has all the qualities that we're looking for to be a quarterback in our system."
Receiver Barrett Banister, another Missouri freshman from Fayetteville, is also playing on the scout team.
"Barrett's done a tremendous job on our look squad all year," Odom said. "He's done a tremendous job in the weight room, academically, taking care of his business. He's exactly the kind of guy we want in the program."
5 in a row
Missouri has won its last five games, outscoring Idaho, UConn, Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt by a combined 260-83 for an average score of 52-17.
Arkansas' last winning streak of five- plus games came in 2011, when the Razorbacks of Coach Bobby Petrino won seven in a row during an 11-2 season. Bret Bielema led the 2015 Razorbacks to four consecutive victories over Auburn, Tennessee-Martin, Ole Miss and LSU, and only a home loss to Mississippi State prevented that team from winning seven in a row, as the Hogs followed with victories over Missouri and Kansas State to cap the season.
The Razorbacks will set a record for points allowed by opponents if Missouri scores 19 or more points Friday.
Arkansas has allowed 386 points, which is 18 shy of the school record of 404 points given up last season in 13 games. Opponents averaged 31.07 points per game last season. The current team is giving up 35.1 points per game through 11 games.
Arkansas had given up more than 300 points in a season only twice -- 360 points in 1990 and 305 points in 2003 -- before 2007. Since 2007, opponents have scored 300 or more points nine times in 11 seasons.
Mississippi State notched four sacks on Saturday, marking the fifth SEC West opponent to sack the Razorbacks at least four times this season.
Texas A&M and Auburn each had six sacks, Alabama notched five, while Mississippi State and Ole Miss had four each. The Razorbacks allowed only two sacks in their 33-10 loss at LSU.
Missouri linebacker Eric Beisel, who made insulting comments about Arkansas prior to last year's game and again at SEC media days in the fall, is playing a lighter role later in the season.
Beisel ranks sixth on the team with 37 tackles. He is running at second-team middle linebacker behind Cale Garrett and playing on special teams.
Beisel advised the Razorbacks not to come to last year's game in Columbia, Mo., won 28-24 by the Tigers, then referred to the Razorbacks as cute little kittens and pronounced the state name as "Ar-Kansas" at SEC media days.
Linebackers De'Jon Harris and Dwayne Eugene and end McTelvin Agim are tied for the team lead with 2 1/2 sacks each entering the season finale.
Eugene got his earlier in the season, with single sacks against Florida A&M and New Mexico State and a half-sack at Alabama. Agim had sacks against New Mexico State and Mississippi State and a half-sack at Alabama. Harris notched his solo sacks at Alabama and against Coastal Carolina and a half-sack against TCU with Austin Capps.
Missouri's six victories have come by 28 or more points. The Tigers and Ohio State are the only teams in the country with six or more victories by that margin.
Sports on 11/23/2017
Print Headline: Hogs host Rebels in LR in '18