OPINION — Like It Is

Defensive effort not enough for Razorbacks

OXFORD, Miss. -- Close, but no cigar -- again.

Arkansas' defense kept it close Saturday by holding the high-flying Ole Miss Rebels to just 27 points, their second-lowest output of the season behind the 10 points it scored against Alabama.

The Rebels scored 10 points in the fourth quarter Saturday to take the win 27-20.

The crafty Lane Kiffin knew what he was doing in the fourth quarter when he changed tactics and instead of mixing and matching plays of runs and passes. He went to the ground attack and the Rebels had a touchdown drive of 75 yards, with 64 coming off 10 runs.

On that drive, they got their first two third-down conversions of the night.

Not being able to run the ball made the Razorbacks streaky most of the night. They ran 29 times for 36 yards, a 1.2 yards-per-carry average.

KJ Jefferson stepped up by throwing for 252 yards and two touchdowns, but had two costly interceptions as the Hogs lost their fourth consecutive game with the Crimson Tide coming up.

Arkansas had 10 penalties and none of them were false starts -- although it seemed like it at times -- and they played better in the second half than the opening one, when it was held to 122 total yards and one touchdown.

The first half seemed to get uglier by the minute for the Razorbacks. Intermission couldn't come fast enough.

Arkansas won the toss, deferred and then promptly forced the Rebels into a three-and-out, and the Hogs then used more than half of the first quarter to drive 80 yards for the first score of the game and then started making game-changing mistakes.

The Razorbacks had the home team facing a third and 9 from its own 26 when they were called for defensive holding that happened on the opposite side of the field from the incompletion that would have made it fourth down.

With new life, Ole Miss drove to the Arkansas 8 where it got stopped and settled for a field goal and began the wait for another gift. It took 29 seconds as Jefferson was intercepted and it was returned to the Razorbacks' 3 and while it took the Rebels all four downs to get into the end zone, they did score their first touchdown for a 10-7 lead.

Neither team threatened until a short punt put the Rebels in play at midfield.

In five plays that consumed just 1:12, Ole Miss covered the needed territory for a 17-7 lead.

Arkansas went three and out, but the defense held the Rebels, who faced fourth and 1 and punted only to have it come back because in the sixth game of the season, after a timeout, the return team had too many players on the field.

It was hard to tell if the Hogs shuffling the offensive line last week really made a difference because Ole Miss had seven tackles for losses, including three sacks at intermission and Arkansas had 9 yards on the ground.

Arkansas opened the second half with a 56-yard field goal by Cam Little, who is listed at 179 pounds but kicks it like that's how much his right leg weighs.

He added a 26 yarder to make it 17-13. After trailing for 34:32, the Razorbacks started a drive late in the third quarter that ended early in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jefferson to Ty Washington giving the visitors a 20-17 lead with 13:11 to play.

Ole Miss immediately answered with that smashmouth drive and never lost the lead.

It was as close as the score might indicate, but in the end it was decided by Ole Miss' defensive play, especially stopping the run, which has been anything but Kiffin's calling card as a head coach.

Arkansas finished with just 288 yards and Ole Miss only 349.

Upcoming Events