No. 12 Ole Miss comes out of bye to face No. 22 Arkansas
After opening against Florida State at a "neutral" site (Orlando, Florida) and then playing four consecutive home games, Ole Miss comes out of its bye week to venture into an opponent's lair for the first time this season.
The first of two consecutive road games comes up Saturday when the 12th-ranked Rebels (3-2, 1-1) play No. 22 Arkansas (4-2, 0-2) at 7 p.m. ET in Donald G. Reynolds Stadium in Fayetteville (ESPN). Next week the Rebels go to LSU.
Ole Miss will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak to the Razorbacks, who are coming off a 49-30 loss at home to top-ranked Alabama and need a win to build some momentum before heading to Auburn the following week.
The Hogs won 30-0 in Fayetteville two years ago and 53-52 in overtime last year in Oxford.
"Two totally different games really," Ole Miss coach Huge Freeze said. "The first one was in November in Fayetteville. The weather was awful and we were disappointed after a Laquon Treadwell injury that kind of knocked us out of things.
"I didn't do a good job getting our team ready to play. Offensively, we were atrocious that night up there.
"Last year was a shootout. We couldn't stop them and they couldn't stop us. I thought we won the game a couple times, obviously, but they made a miraculous play on the fourth down. We stopped them on the two-point play and then we had a penalty and they converted.
"That game could have been won or lost a lot of different times, but we certainly struggled to stop them."
Ole Miss won't have Treadwell around this time either, but quarterback Chad Kelly will be back. He passed for 368 yards and rushed for 110 last year against the Hogs. He is averaging just over 319 yards a game passing this year and rushing for just under 25 a game.
Arkansas will be without quarterback Brandon Allen, who passed for 442 yards against the Rebels in 2015, but his younger brother Austin has picked up pretty much where big brother left off.
"I feel like I am watching the same guy," Freeze said.
Allen has completed 63.6 percent of his passed for an average of 272 yards a game. The Hogs also have a 100-yard rusher in Rawleigh Williams III, who has 605 yards in six games.
That's more of a concern for the Rebels than the results of the last two meetings, Freeze said.
"If that is what my focus is on 'Hey we got to get ready to beat them because they beat us last year', I don't really buy into that," Freeze said. "I buy into, 'Here's the plan that gives us the best chance to succeed and now we've got to make sure we understand and can efficiently do it.' That will be our focus."
The Hogs, though, may have to deal with the effect of having lost two of their last three games, both to SEC West rivals. Texas A&M won 45-24 on the last Saturday in September.
Coach Bret Bielema said he doesn't expect a problem.
"I think to the outside world, that's probably a very easy question to ask, but if you're in the locker room with our guys, it's something never that never really comes up," Bielema said. "They play very, very hard. They're locked in.
"They understand -- they had high expectations, and when you lose, you're going to have a high feeling of disappointment, so that's a good thing. But we definitely don't have time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves."
With the 0-2 start in the SEC West, however, and Alabama and A&M sitting with no losses and Ole Miss with just one in league play, it's apparent that the Razorbacks dreams of an SEC championship are all but over.
"Obviously, to win the SEC West after an 0-2 start, we're going to need help along the way" Bielema said after the loss to Alabama.
Bielema doesn't see that having much of an impact on the Hogs' approach either.
"We're a 4-2 team that lost to the No. 1 team in the country and did enough things to make that happen," he said. "But we've got to correct the negatives for us to move forward on positives."