Inside the matchups

OFFENSE

RUNNING BACK
Mississippi State junior running back Ladarius Perkins is expected to play Saturday after missing last week’s 37-13 loss at LSU because of a strained quadriceps. He’s the third-leading rusher in the SEC this season with 153 carries for 804 yards and eight touchdowns and has four games with at least 100 yards rushing this year. … Arkansas senior Dennis Johnson had back-to-back 100-yard efforts before getting held to 41 on 11 carries in last week’s 38-20 loss at South Carolina. He’s the Hogs’ leading rusher this season with 639 yards and eight touchdowns on 116 carries. Junior Knile Davis is expected to make his return after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. ADVANTAGE Mississippi State

QUARTERBACK
Bulldogs junior Tyler Russell didn’t have his best effort in last year’s 44-17 loss to the Razorbacks, completing 7 of 15 passes for 55 yards. But he’s certainly having a good 2012. He’s thrown for 2,249 yards and a single-season school record 17 touchdowns with just four interceptions. … Razorbacks senior Tyler Wilson has set numerous school records, but he’s had a rough three-game stretch, throwing five picks vs. four touchdowns during that time. He was intercepted twice and threw two touchdowns last week, completing 26 of 41 for 277 yards. For the season, Wilson has passed for 2,803 yards and 18 TDs with 10 INTs. He’s still considered one of the best QBs in the country. ADVANTAGE Arkansas

RECEIVER
Senior Chad Bumphis holds the Mississippi State record for career touchdown catches (20) and leads all SEC receivers with eight TD catches this season. With one more, he’ll set the school single-season record. He has 43 catches for 676 yards this season. … Arkansas senior Cobi Hamilton holds the school single-season records for receptions (73) and receiving yards (1,149). His 114.9 yards-per-game average leads the SEC. ADVANTAGE Arkansas

LINE
Mississippi State ranks 14th in the nation and second in the SEC in sacks allowed (1.0 per game). It ranks ninth in the SEC in rushing offense (145.5 per game) but has three backs averaging more than 5.0 yards per carry. Junior left guard Gabe Jackson and sophomore center Dillon Day are the most heralded of the bunch. … The Hogs have allowed one sack or fewer in seven games this season, and they rank third in the conference in sacks allowed (1.70 per game). But Wilson has also taken a pounding at times, and he was sacked three times last Saturday. Arkansas still ranks 13th in the SEC in rushing. ADVANTAGE Mississippi State

DEFENSE

LINE
Mississippi State hasn’t stopped the run very well (it ranks 11th in the conference in rushing defense) and the Bulldogs are next-to-last in the conference in sacks (1.50 per game). Junior defensive end Denico Autry, who was ranked the No. 3 junior college player in the nation by 247Sports in 2012, leads the Bulldogs in tackles for loss (7.5). … Arkansas ranks 23rd nationally and fifth in the SEC in rushing defense, and starting ends Chris Smith and Trey Flowers each rank in the top 10 in the conference in sacks. They’re each among the top 11 in tackles for loss. ADVANTAGE Arkansas

LINEBACKER
Senior linebacker Cameron Lawrence ranks sixth in the SEC in tackles (87) and 15th in sacks (4.0). He also has seven tackles for loss. Redshirt fresman Benardrick McKinney is third nationally among freshmen with 79 tackles. … Arkansas senior linebacker Terrell Williams is still out after getting arrested in connection with driving while intoxicated after the homecoming win over Tulsa. That leaves two true freshmen Otha Peters and A.J. Turner, as the starter at Mike and Will, respectively. Both give great effort, but pass coverage remains an issue. ADVANTAGE Mississippi State

SECONDARY
Mississippi State, which has four upperclassmen starting in the secondary, has made 12 interceptions this season. Two senior cornerbacks – Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay – each have four picks. Banks was named a midseason All-American by numerous media outlets. The Bulldogs rank eighth in the conference in passing defense, but are sixth in the more telling pass efficiency defense. … Arkansas senior safety Ross Rasner ranks fourth in the SEC with three interceptions, and he’s sixth in passes defensed (nine). He also is 11th in the SEC in tackles with a team-leading 74. But there have been plenty of issues with the Razorbacks’ young and injury-hampered secondary this season. The Hogs are last in the conference in pass defense and next-to-last in pass efficiency defense. ADVANTAGE Mississippi State

Zach Hocker has made six field goals in the past three games.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Bulldogs rank in the top half of the SEC in kickoff returns, punt returns and punting. Junior punter Baker Swedenberg averages 41.5 yards per punt. But 22 of his 42 punts have resulted in fair catches, and 14 have been downed inside opponents’ 20-yard line. True freshman kicker Devon Bell is 10 of 16 on field-goal attempts. He has 12 touchbacks on 46 kickofs, averaging 61.2 yards. Perkins returns kickoffs and has averaged 20.6 yards on 15 returns. Banks has averaged 9.8 yards on 10 punt returns. … The Hogs will have another change at punt returner this week as senior Kaelon Kelleybrew will get the nod in place of freshman Nate Holmes. Holmes suffered an “above the shoulders” injury last week vs. South Carolina. True freshman D'Arthur Cowan is expected to return kickoffs as the Hogs are trying to get Johnson a few more breathers. Junior Zach Hocker’s kickoff average of 64.88 yards leads the SEC, and he has 37 touchbacks, which ranks second in the conference and sixth nationally. He’s 11 of 16 on field-goal attempts. Senior Dylan Breeding ranks second in the NCAA and sixth nationally, averaging 45.8 yards per punt. He’s dropped 15 of his 44 punts inside the 20 and has 17 of 50 yards or longer. ADVANTAGE Arkansas

Key matchup

Tyler Wilson vs. the Bulldogs’ defensive backs

Wilson, who holds 27 school records, ranks second in the SEC in passing yards per game and third in total offense. But he’s sixth in passing efficiency. In the games in which he’s been healthy and has thrown one or fewer picks, the Hogs are 4-0. Mississippi State can get takeaways, even though there have been issues at safety. If the Bulldogs are to snap their three-game losing streak, they’ll need to put pressure on Wilson and force him into some mistakes.

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