OXFORD, Miss. – Arkansas and Mississippi both expected to field much improved offenses this season, but neither team showed much firepower in their respective season openers. Arkansas at least was able to escape with a victory, and the Razorbacks will go for a 2-0 start when they visit the Rebels on Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both schools.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Mississippi -6.5.
After winning only two games in 2018, Arkansas struggled in its season opener before coming away with a 20-13 victory over FCS opponent Portland State. "Never will I ever apologize for winning, there is no such thing as a bad win," Razorbacks coach Chad Morris said. "You win and you correct. Now, you may not have played as well as you wanted to play, and we didn't, but we won and we're going to be able to use this win to make corrections." Mississippi cannot say the same after it was unable to get its offense untracked and suffered a 15-10 loss at Memphis. It marked the sixth consecutive defeat dating to last year for the Rebels, who ended a four-game slide in the series with a 37-33 road win last season - the fourth straight meeting that has been decided by four points or fewer.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (1-0)
Ben Hicks was not overly impressive in seeing the majority of work at quarterback over Nick Starkel in the opener, throwing for 143 yards, but Morris said he will be under center again against Ole Miss. The ground game did much of the heavy lifting on offense against Portland State, churning out 204 yards as Rakeem Boyd rushed for a career-high 114 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries - the highest total for a Razorback since Nov. 4, 2017. Safety Kamren Curl led a solid defensive effort in the opener with the first two sacks of his career and an interception - the first Arkansas player with one of each since 2011.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI (1-0)
Rich Rodriguez is in charge of the Rebels' offense after head coaching stints at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona, but he has his hands full after watching Ole Miss manage a paltry 173 total yards at Memphis. "This is probably the youngest and least experienced group that I've worked with (as a coach), but our job as coaches is to get them prepared - the more games we'll play, the better and more experience we'll get," Rodriguez told reporters. The Rebels had negative rushing yardage in the first half but did show some improvement after intermission as Scottie Phillips finished with 62 yards and a touchdown.
1. Razorbacks NT McTelvin Agim registered two sacks in the opener.
2. Rebels QB Matt Corral threw for only 93 yards, the fewest by any Power Five team in Week 1.
3. Arkansas DL Dorian Gerald will sit out the rest of the season due to a strained artery in his neck.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 27, Mississippi 23