Razorbacks eager to build on win against Ole Miss
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Trey Flowers' disappointment after several close losses this season made the wild celebration at Arkansas after defeating LSU last week all the more worth the wait.
The senior defensive end would enjoy nothing more than to follow up the emotional win with another upset - and by earning a bowl berth for the first time since his freshman season.
Arkansas (5-5, 1-5 Southeastern Conference) hosts No. 8 Mississippi (8-2, 4-2) on Saturday with a chance to turn a 17-game SEC losing streak into back-to-back conference wins within a matter of a week.
More than most Razorbacks, Flowers felt a sense of relief following the win over LSU. The senior was a freshman for Arkansas' last bowl game, a Cotton Bowl win over Kansas State to end the 2011 season, and he's eager to bookend his career with a final bowl trip.
''I'm just enjoying the moment and having fun, just trying to stack wins on top of wins and turn this program around with my brothers,'' Flowers said. ''... (A bowl game) would be very fun for us, so to bring a bowl back to the program would be very encouraging.''
While the Razorbacks put an end to their SEC misery with last week's win over the Tigers, it's the Rebels who enter this week with a conference losing streak - a two-game stretch that followed seven straight wins overall to begin the season.
Ole Miss rebounded from a disheartening loss to Auburn with a nonconference shutout of Presbyterian two weeks ago. However, the emotional remnants of the loss to the Tigers, as well as the loss of injured wide receiver Laquon Treadwell for the season, remain - even following last week's bye.
''It was a couple day of gut-wrenching feelings around here,'' Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. ''So, the combination of all that certainly hurt, but if you don't have the ability to move on past a big win or difficult loss, you won't be very good for the duration.''
Some things to watch as Arkansas tries to extend Ole Miss' SEC struggles and earn bowl eligibility in coach Bret Bielema's second season:
TITLE HOPES: Despite their recent heartbreak, the Rebels can still win the SEC West. They must win their final two regular season games, beginning on Saturday, as well as hope for Auburn to beat Alabama and Mississippi State to defeat Vanderbilt. It's a scenario the Rebels are well aware of. ''We have to finish these last two games, so our focus is really high right now,'' Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace said.
ADAPTING OFFENSE: With its wide receivers struggling with drops and an inability to make plays after catches this season, Arkansas went another route on offense last week against LSU. Of quarterback Brandon Allen's 16 completions, all but two went to tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Tight ends Hunter Henry and AJ Derby, along with running back Korliss Marshall, had four catches each, a trend that figures to continue for the Razorbacks.
LETDOWN ALERT: Thousands of fans rushed the field in Razorback Stadium following last week's win, leading to the potential for an emotional letdown this week for Arkansas. Bielema, however, has already warned the Razorbacks of exactly such a scenario: ''I told them, `Be your own critical self this week. Your mom, your, dad all your friends, your girlfriend, whatever, is going to think you are better than you are this week. Just take a little bit of that and feel good about it, but Ole Miss is not looking at that game other than opportunity to make themselves better.'''
THIRD-DOWN PROUD: Following 10 of 17 conversions on third down last week, Arkansas is ninth nationally with a 49.6 (70 of 141) conversion rate for the season. The Razorbacks face an Ole Miss defense this week that leads the country in scoring defense (11.9 points per game) and has allowed opponents to convert only 10 of 45 (30.6 percent) third downs.
REMEMBERING UEKMAN: Among those taking part in Arkansas' Senior Day ceremonies on Saturday will be the family of former Razorback Garrett Uekman. The tight end passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2011 and would have been a senior this year.
Associated Press Sports Writer David Brandt in Oxford, Mississippi, contributed to this report.