Arkansas football grades vs. Ole Miss: Unpacking Razorbacks' best win this season
Arkansas is going to a bowl game for the second year in a row.
The Razorbacks (6-5, 3-4 SEC) started fast on offense. The defense allowed a shocking number of yards, but most of them came when it was too late for Ole Miss (8-3, 4-3) to make a comeback.
Here's how we're grading each phase of Arkansas' game.
The Razorbacks revived their identity. Quarterback KJ Jefferson returned with a vengeance after missing last week's loss to LSU with soreness and bruising in his throwing shoulder and clavicle. He threw for 168 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Raheim "Rocket" Sanders had a breakout game after being held to 60 rushing yards or fewer in his last two games. Against Ole Miss, he had two touchdowns and a career-high 221 rushing yards.
Sam Pittman said it best at halftime when he said the defense bent but didn't break.
The Razorbacks were plus-three in the turnover margin and held the Rebels without a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Arkansas' defense gave up plenty of big plays, but it stood tall when it mattered most. Ole Miss had 18 plays of 10 yards or more, including four passes of at least 23 yards.
Arkansas gave up 703 yards, the most it had allowed since 2019. The defense didn't give up a touchdown until the fourth quarter, then gave up three. It was still enough for the win.
Special teams: B
Arkansas had a couple of messy special teams plays. After going three-and-out on the opening drive, the Razorbacks tried to run a fake punt, but a false start pushed them out of field goal range, forcing them to punt for real. The Razorbacks later muffed an Ole Miss punt but recovered it, and a kick-catch interference call against Ole Miss gave them 15 extra yards. Cam Little was 0-for-1 on field goal tries, but it was a 47-yard miss when Arkansas was already up plenty. None of the special teams mishaps were bad enough to change the Razorbacks' rout.
Arkansas played a relatively clean game, with seven penalties to Ole Miss' 10 and no turnovers. The Razorbacks rallied after back-to-back losses, made a game plan and executed it to the tune of a 15-point win. It wasn't a complete game, with Ole Miss outscoring Arkansas 21-0 in the fourth quarter, but it was a win.
Arkansas played its best game in weeks when it really needed a win. The Razorbacks beat a top-15 opponent and will be playing in a bowl game for the second year in a row. What's more deserving of an A than that?