Matt Jones has been the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2010. He is also a feature writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in documentary film.
Bulldogs slam the door on Arkansas' bowl hopes
NWA Media/JASON IVESTER -- Arkansas senior wide receiver Cobi Hamilton is hit by Mississippi State junior Nicoe Whitley after making a touchdown catch during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.
STARKVILLE, Miss. Arkansas' 2012 season is officially entering its final week.
The Razorbacks lost 45-14 to Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday to ensure they will not be eligible for a bowl game this year. Arkansas will finish the season on Friday against No. 7 LSU in Fayetteville.
Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3 SEC) overcame an early deficit by scoring the game's final 38 points. Arkansas led 14-7 after two offensive possessions, but things turned when Kaelon Kelleybrew fumbled a punt return midway through the second quarter.
Tyler Russell's 6-yard touchdown pass to Chad Bumphis with 4:48 left before halftime gave the Bulldogs the lead for good. Russell set multiple Mississippi State's single-season passing records in the win, throwing for 274 yards and four touchdowns.
The Bulldogs extended their lead on Dak Prescott's 4-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 5:51 left in the third quarter and added another score later in the period when Russell hit LaDarius Perkins for a 24-yard touchdown pass two plays following a Jonathan Williams fumble.
Perkins rushed for 91 yards Saturday, and added 40 yards and two touchdowns receiving.
Like much of the season, the Razorbacks were undone by their own mistakes. Arkansas committed seven penalties in the second quarter alone and five turnovers overall, repeatedly aiding Mississippi State with good field position.
Arkansas (4-7, 2-5) began the game well offensively behind the play of quarterback Tyler Wilson. The redshirt senior completed 11 of 12 passes on the Razorbacks' first two offensive possessions for 116 yards and a pair of scores.
His 30-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton answered a Mississippi State touchdown on the game's opening possession and a 7-yard pass to Dennis Johnson gave Arkansas a 14-7 lead with 12:17 remaining in the second quarter.
Wilson struggled after halftime, though, throwing two interceptions. He finished the game completing 23 of 29 passes for 225 yards.
The loss was the Razorbacks' worst ever to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs' previous four wins over Arkansas were by a combined 21 points.
Lead early, blown out late
The Razorbacks have only trailed after the first quarter in two games (Alabama and South Carolina), but Arkansas has blown leads acquired in the first half against five of the seven teams to which they have lost.
Mississippi State became the fourth team to beat the Razorbacks by three or more scores on Saturday. Arkansas has been outscored by its opponents 175-84 in the second half this season.
Cobi Hamilton passed Joe Adams for second on Arkansas' career receptions list (165) and is four receptions shy of breaking Jarius Wright's school record. Hamilton, who has set school records for receptions and receiving yards this season, also extended his games with a catch streak to 33, which is the longest active streak in the SEC.
Tyler Russell broke three school records, recording his seventh 200-yard passing game of season. Russell broke Mississippi State's season completions record and the Bulldogs' record for passing yards in a season.
Arkansas will play LSU in Fayetteville on Friday, Nov. 23 for the first time since 1992. The Tigers are 9-2 and 5-2 in the SEC following a 41-35 win over Ole Miss on Saturday. Kickoff between the Razorbacks and the Tigers is set for 1:30 p.m. on the day after Thanksgiving and the game will be televised by CBS.