Mississippi State football: 5 storylines for Bulldogs vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

Sep 16, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Zach Arnett looks onto the field during the second quarter against the LSU Tigers at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 16, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Zach Arnett looks onto the field during the second quarter against the LSU Tigers at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports /

Both the Mississippi State football team and the Arkansas Razorbacks are searching for their first SEC win this season. Who gets it on Saturday?

On Saturday, Zach Arnett and the Mississippi State Bulldogs will travel to Fayetteville to face off against the Arkansas Razorbacks in a pretty important SEC matchup for the Mississippi State football team.

Right now, both the Razorbacks and Bulldogs are winless in SEC play. And despite what both fanbases might feel right now, someone technically will win this game.

And that means a conference win for one of these programs!

Mississippi State comes into the game with a 3-3 overall record after handling the Western Michigan Broncos and recording a 41-28 win prior to the Bulldogs’ bye week. Meanwhile, Arkansas is 2-5 overall and 0-4 in SEC play, but the Razorbacks challenged the Alabama Crimson Tide and lost 24-21 in a close contest with Nick Saban.

Mississippi State football vs. Arkansas Razorbacks: 5 storylines to watch as Bulldogs travel to face Arkansas

Both of these programs have struggled in conference play and this game presents a major opportunity for both programs to start getting this season turned around.

For Mississippi State football fans, this is a great opportunity for the Bulldogs to take a significant step towards bowl eligibility (we’ll talk about this more in a minute), which would be crucial for a program that is trying to extend a program best bowl appearance streak.

So, as MSU battles the Razorbacks, keep an eye on these five storylines.

Can the Mississippi State football team operate its offense the way the Bulldogs want to?

Look, there is absolutely no way the Bulldogs have been moving the ball the way that Miss. State offensive coordinator Kevin Barbay wants to.

State’s offense has been dreadful for much of the season and, given that Barbay was quick to publicly defend his aggressive play calling decisions vs. the Alabama Crimson Tide (which was absolutely right and also a very public contrast with Arnett’s conservative play calling desires for a situation prior to halftime vs. Alabama), there’s no way he’s satisfied with how this unit is performing.

So, as the Bulldogs potentially have to deal with injuries to Will Rogers and Woody Marks, and as MSU has been flat out bad on offense, how will Barbay and this side of the ball move forward?

The Mississippi State football team can’t afford to make major mistakes on the road

The Arkansas Razorbacks have been very opportunistic on defense. Very, very opportunistic. So far this season, we’ve seen Arkansas sore 54 points off of turnovers. With MSU’s offense being exceptionally mediocre at various times this year, it’s going to be crucial that they don’t give Arkansas more opportunities to score.

This particular Mississippi State football team hasn’t exactly demonstrated the ability to overcome a significant deficit. And so, I really don’t have a ton of confidence that the Bulldogs could win if they got too far behind.

How will the Bulldogs handle their second road game of the 2023 Mississippi State football season?

We’ve seen Zach Arnett’s Mississippi State Bulldogs struggle through much of the season up to this point, but interestingly enough, one of MSU’s best offensive performances came on the road when the Bulldogs faced off against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

MSU wasn’t perfect in that game, and there’s a bit of a chance that Will Rogers (a key offensive star from that game), may not be 100 percent healthy after getting dinged up against Western Michigan.

So, how will Arnett’s team fare on the road? Will the offense be able to handle the pressure of playing in a hostile environment?

Which team will get its first SEC win of the 2023 season?

Both of these teams badly need an SEC win. Technically speaking, one of these teams will get one this weekend. Mississippi State football fans are more than hopeful that it’s the Bulldogs that find a way to come out on top against Arkansas.

MSU is currently 0-3 in SEC play and the Razorbacks are 0-4 against SEC foes at the moment. Arkansas has actually looked a bit better in some of its key SEC losses (vs. LSU and vs. Alabama) than the Bulldogs have. But, one thing that might help State a bit here is that Arkansas is coming off of five consecutive losses while MSU is coming off of a bye week.

A Mississippi State Bulldogs’ win would reignite MSU’s dwindling bowl hopes

So, yeah, this game is a bit unlikely of a win for the Mississippi State football team. It’s worth noting that, while MSU was absolutely demolished by both the LSU Tigers (41-14) and Alabama Crimson Tide (40-17), Arkansas was able to put up a fight and lost by a combined six points vs. both of those teams.

When looking at ESPN’s FPI, State is only given a 32.7 percent chance of getting a win here. And when it comes to bowl hopes, ESPN’s FPI gives MSU a 46.8 percent chance of getting to six wins and locking up bowl eligibility.

State needs three more wins to get to that mark. Here’s to hoping the Bulldogs can pull off an unlikely upset and take on step closer to bowl eligibility.

Reliving every single Mississippi State bowl game. dark. Next