Coming back home
MSU’s 14-point win at Kentucky represented MSU’s first-ever win as the No. 1 team in the country, a distinction MSU was given three weeks ago following a 38-23 win over then-No. 2 Auburn. Saturday’s game against Arkansas, which will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2, will be MSU’s first chance to sport that top billing at home.
“It should be a good atmosphere,” said MSU quarterback Dak Prescott. “The rankings and stuff, we are not really worried about that as much, but we are excited to be back home in front of our fans.”
Other Bulldogs agreed.
“The rankings, we can’t really control that,” said MSU safety Kivon Coman. “But walking around campus, it does feel good. All the fans are excited and the attention is cool, so coming out of that tunnel as No. 1, that will be special. But in the end, it’s just a number.”
One challenge for Collins and MSU’s defense will be dealing with an Arkansas offensive line that ranks as the nation’s biggest across all levels, including the NFL. The Razorbacks’ offensive line averages 328.4 pounds across the front, ranking just ahead of the Buffalo Bills as the biggest offensive line unit in the country. Led by 6-foot-10, 326-pound tackle Dan Skipper, the Arkansas offensive line has created holes for a rushing attack that ranks fourth in the SEC.
“They have the biggest offensive line in the United States,” said Mullen. “These guys are legit. They are a big, physical outfit, and they have two of the best tailbacks in the country.”
To combat the Razorbacks’ size up front, Collins says the Bulldogs have to be fast and physical, two traits that have come easy to the Bulldogs’ front seven, which ranks first in the SEC with 28 sacks.
“We have recruited big,” said Collins. “We’ve got a big defensive line, big linebackers, so we are equipped to deal with size. But Arkansas is a lot more than just big. They are smart, disciplined. We have to deal with the mental side of their offensive line, too.”
Dak in Action
Last November, MSU earned a 24-17 overtime victory over Arkansas in Little Rock, a win that helped the Bulldogs continue their road to bowl eligibility. More importantly, though, MSU won without the services of Prescott, who missed two games after being injured in a 51-41 loss at Texas A&M.
One year later, Prescott is one of the SEC’s best, entering Arkansas week with more than
Arkansas o line 2,000 total yards and 26 touchdowns.
Asked if he’s excited to play a team he missed last season, Prescott said “I am excited to play every team. Any time you play an SEC game, that alone gets you going. I am happy to be here, and I am ready to play.”
That win at Arkansas was key for MSU on several levels. First, it helped the Bulldogs maintain bowl eligibility for a fourth-straight season under Mullen. More than that, though, the win at Arkansas started MSU’s current winning streak, which sits at 10 games in a row. That run is good for the second-longest all-time at MSU, trailing only a streak from 1942 until 1944. Additionally, the Bulldogs have won six straight conference games while the Razorbacks, in their second season under coach Bret Beilema, has lost 16 consecutive league games.
Ring of Honor
Tom “Shorty” McWilliams, a four-time All-Southeastern Conference selection and one of the greatest backs in MSU football history, will become the newest member of the MSU Ring of Honor inside Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in a halftime ceremony Saturday.
McWilliams will become the sixth Bulldog legend to join the Ring of Honor, joining Johnie Cooks, Jack Cristil, Kent Hull, D.D. Lewis and Jackie Parker.
McWilliams played for the Bulldogs in 1944 and from 1946-48, earning All-SEC distinction all four years. He tallied 1,808 career rushing yards, 19 career rushing touchdowns and 144 career points. He remains the only MSU player to earn votes for the Heisman Trophy when he finished 10th in the balloting in 1944.
The Newton, Miss., native was voted a second-team All-America selection in 1944. In a 26-21 win over Auburn on Nov. 11, 1944, McWilliams rushed for 148 yards on 16 carries. That same season he was voted SEC Most Valuable Player by the Nashville Banner.
McWilliams still holds the MSU single-game record for plays with 36 in a 20-0 win over Tulane on Nov. 1, 1947. Until a knee injury ended his career, McWilliams played professionally for the Los Angeles Dons in 1949 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1950.