USM & MSU renew rivalry, Ole Miss welcomes Arkansas in Week 2

Week two of the college football season is just one day away. In Mississippi, Southern Miss & Mississippi State will renew an in-state rivalry, and Ole Miss looks to avoid an 0-2 start to the 2019 season. 

Southern Miss @ Mississippi State 

This will be the 30th meeting between these two teams in the series which dates back to 1935. The all-time series is tied at 14-14-1 (according to MSU Athletics), but the Bulldogs own a 4-game winning streak. The last time USM beat Mississippi State was in 1988. 

The Bulldog defense struggled at times against Louisiana in week one, and after the game, head coach Joe Moorhead said that the unit needs to find an identity following the departure of Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons. This week, they’ll face a USM offense led by QB Jack Abraham who threw for 293 yards and a touchdown in USM’s win over Alcorn State. 

Offensively for MSU, grad-transfer Tommy Stevens impressed in his first start, but Kylin Hill was the focal point for the Bulldogs with 197 yards on 27 carries. If USM can’t slow Hill down, they’ve got little chance to pull an upset in this one. 

The Bulldogs enter their home opener as heavy favorites, but head coach Joe Moorhead knows that the rivalry aspect gives this matchup a different feel. 

“I think they will be cranked up to come into Davis Wade and play against Mississippi State because it is an in-state school, number one, and it is an SEC West opponent. Number two, also our guys are to be excited about it because these are probably kids that they played against for the four years in high school. So, I think on both ends they’ll be excited for the opportunity to play an SEC school and I think we are excited because, quite frankly, they are a very good football team,” he said. 

Kickoff from Davis Wade Stadium is at 2:30 p.m. 

Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

Photo by News Mississippi

This matchup has seen it all in recent years, and fans could be in for another close game as the last 4 meetings between the Rebels and the Razorbacks have been decided by a total of 10 points. 

It was an opener to forget for Ole Miss’ offense in their loss to Memphis, and they’ll attempt to get on track in their home opener against Arkansas. Redshirt freshman QB Matt Corral completed just 9 passes for 93 yards last week, and the offense as a whole totaled just 173 yards behind an offensive line that struggled with the Tigers’ rush. Corral was never able to settle in the pocket and RB Scottie Phillips found little room to maneuver.

This week, head coach Matt Luke said it will be imperative that the Rebels avoid negative plays as they look to improve on offense. 

“Anytime you play offense, you have to stay away from negative plays. Sacks, negative-yard gains on first down are even more critical because you lose yardage on first down. It puts you in third-and-longs, and those lead to sacks. Staying ahead of the chains and no minus-yard plays will be huge for us,” Luke said. 

The Rebel defense will likely see two QBs on Saturday. Neither Ben Hicks or Nick Starkel established themselves in Arkansas’ 20-13 win over Portland State last week. Whoever lines up under center will be handing the ball off to Rakeem Boyd, who rushed for 109 yards and a TD on just 7 carries before suffering an injury in last year’s loss to Ole Miss.

Kick-off from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m.