FAYETTEVILLE — Like they say advertising Oaklawn horse racing: “Somebody’s going to win.”
That means somebody among the Arkansas Razorbacks and Ole Miss Rebels will crack the SEC win column in tonight’s 6:30 SEC Network televised SEC West game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Coach Matt Luke’s Rebels, 4-2, are 4-0 nonconference but lost their two SEC games 62-7 at their Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to No. 1 Alabama and 45-16 at currently No. 13 LSU.
Arkansas under coach Chad Morris is 1-5, overall, 0-3 in the SEC West.
The Razorbacks have lost five consecutively since opening the season 55-20 over Eastern Illinois, their lone opponent from the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision).
Since then, the Razorbacks of the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) and the Southeastern Conference lost a 27-9 lead during the third quarter to lose 34-27 at Colorado State of the Mountain West Conference.
They were start to finish embarrassed 44-17 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville by North Texas of Conference USA.
The last three games, all SEC foes, the Razorbacks lost 34-3, 24-17 and 65-31 to Auburn, nationally ninth at the time now 21st, currently No. 22 Texas A&M and all season long No. 1 Alabama, the reigning national champion.
The fallen from 1-2 to 1-5 Razorbacks and their fans, actually exude more positives about their team post their three SEC games than before them.
Heavy underdogs in all three SEC games after going 1-2 as favorites in their nonconference games, the Razorbacks, defensively, played well against Auburn considering the Tigers capitalized on special teams.
They were in it to the finish with the ball and down seven before falling to A&M at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
Last Saturday in Fayetteville with 31 points and 405 yards total offense, Arkansas scored more points and made more yards than anybody has scored and amassed on 6-0 Alabama this season.
So, though, fans wondered aloud if their Hogs would win a game immediately after the debacle against North Texas, most now see Arkansas finally picking on somebody its own size even as Ole Miss rates a 6- to 7-point favorites among the Las Vegas casinos.
Arkansas’ offense and special teams improved immensely against Alabama over its performances against North Texas in Fayetteville and against Auburn in Auburn, Alabama.
The defense, even allowing for Alabama’s pick six picking off and returning a Ty Storey pass for a touchdown among its 65 points, obviously didn’t fare as well against Alabama’s Crimson Tide as previous foes, but the Tide has rolled unstoppably against all in its path thus far.
And even while beaten, Arkansas’ defense never quit against the Tide.
These Hogs have grown tougher every week.
“I think anytime you are around each other as much as we are and when you go through adversity like we have you find the growth,” Morris said. “You find what you are really about. You force yourself to continue to grow. When you go through adversity you become closer, you become better. I think the staff has become better. I think the players have become better and closer. That's why you have seen the progress that you have seen.”
That said, Ole Miss remains the favorite with cause.
Arkansas hasn’t beaten a Power Five team since last year’s 38-37 Oct. 28 victory over Ole Miss on Connor Limpert’s field goal with four seconds left.
Ole Miss smarts from field goal extending Arkansas’ four-game winning streak over the Rebels.
Last Saturday, Ole Miss flexed its offensive muscles 76-21 over Louisiana-Monroe.
Rebels quarterback Jordan Ta’amu during last season beat out Shea Patterson, the quarterback now starring as a graduate transfer at Michigan.
This season in total command, Ta’amu has completed 120 of 187 for 1,911 yards with 13 touchdowns against four picks.
Rebels receivers A.J. Brown, 44 for 586 for four touchdowns, D.K Metcalf, 28 for 520 yards and five touchdowns, tight end DeMarcus Loge, 25 for 386 with a TD, can bedevil any secondary.
Skill-wise the Rebels receivers rank with Alabama’s.
While no Tua Tagovailoa, Ta’amu ranks with the best of the rest of the SEC quarterbacks.
As Arkansas enthuses that junior college transfer running back Rakeem Boyd became Arkansas’ first to top 100 rushing yards (15 for 102) on Alabama since Darren McFadden, the two-time Doak Walker Award/two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up, in 2007, Ole Miss junior college transfer running back Scottie Phillips averages 7.1 per carry.
Both teams approach this Little Rock kickoff believing they have the somebodies to emerge victorious.
But the somebody is going to win Oaklawn edict at Hot Springs reminds that only one team’s somebodies will win tonight in Little Rock.