FAYETTEVILLE — Adding Wednesday’s announcement of the Florida versus LSU on Saturday game postponement because of COVID-19 related absences to the previously announced Saturday Missouri versus Vanderbilt postponement for the same reason has altered the television assignments of some other Saturday SEC games including Arkansas versus Ole Miss.
First-year coach Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks, 1-2, still at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville host the 1-2 Ole Miss Rebels but will do so on the SEC Network instead of ESPN2 as originally scheduled.
Don’t with indelible ink pen Saturday’s Arkansas versus Ole Miss as definitely scheduled set.
First-year Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin sweats rising COVID-19 quarantined numbers on his Rebels.
“We are dealing with our first COVID issues of the season,” Kiffin said on Wednesday’s SEC Coaches/Media teleconference. “We had it in (preseason) camp but have been great the first two or three games. That’s been a big challenge this week.”
Does Kiffin fear, with the Rebels and Razorbacks each awaiting COVID-19 tests Thursday, that Saturday’s game also could be postponed?
“I hope not.” Kiffin replied. “If we were to play today, we could play, so hopefully it stays that way.”
Kiffin said even minus the COVID absences, “we are already banged up after a very physical highly competitive game against a great team in ‘Bama. So this is going to be very challenging.”
The Rebels and the nationally No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide played a wild one last Saturday tied 42-42 during the fourth quarter at Oxford, Mississippi, before Alabama finally prevailed, 63-48.
Meanwhile, Arkansas led No. 13 Auburn, 28-27 with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter at Auburn, Alabama, and lost 30-28, on an Auburn field goal with seven seconds left after an apparent Auburn spike the ball bounced backwards as a lateral recovered by Arkansas safety Joe Foucha but whistled dead as an intentionally grounded incomplete pass.
“I’m sure Auburn is counting their blessings,” Kiffin said. “The ball is backwards. Knox (Lane’s 10-year-old son) knew that when he saw it. It’s really a shame for Arkansas to play that well and should have won the game.”
Kiffin coached Florida Atlantic last year when the Razorbacks under the Chad Morris regime suffered their second consecutive 2-10 seasons including consecutively 0-8 in the SEC.
“You know I kind of wished they were like last year,” Kiffin said. “But he (Pittman) has done an awesome job. Completely different on defense. They go run to the ball, play as hard as can be and give people problems. Offensively very explosive with the tempo. So we are going to have our hands full. They have a really good team.”
Quarterbacked by national total offense leader Matt Corral, Ole Miss totals 125 points for its three games, losing 51-35 to No. 5 Florida, edging Kentucky, 42-41 in overtime and losing the wild, 63-48 game at home to Alabama.
“Coach Kiffin, he’s an offensive genius,” Pittman said. “I mean he really is. Those guys are playing unbelievable.”