Both Mississippi State and Arkansas had Chris Smiths on the field Saturday — a 6-foot-2 senior wide receiver for Mississippi State and a 6-3 junior defensive end for Arkansas.
Arkansas’ Smith had five tackles — two for losses — against the Bulldogs, but no sacks. He recorded two quarterback hurries, however.
He entered the game as fourth-best in the Southeastern Conference for sacks with 6 1/2. He also led the team with 10 quarterback hurries. Smith was named SEC co-defensive player of the week against Tulsa with a career-high eight tackles, including 1 1/2 for losses and a sack. He also was honored as SEC defensive lineman of the week against Jacksonville State in the season opener with six tackles and a sack.
The MSU Smith caught two Tyler Russell passes for 23 yards. He went into the game with 40 receptions, 482 yards, and two TDs.
Arkansas’ kicker didn’t get many opportunities Saturday, but with every PAT or field goal, Zach Hocker adds to his record for points scored by a Razorback. The junior from Russellville has scored 287 points since winning placekicking duties as a freshman — not bad for a guy who walked on to vie for a spot as punter. Against Mississippi State, he was true on two PATs.
Hocker set the points record against South Carolina, eclipsing Steve Little’s 280. Little played from 1974-77. Hocker was asked to compete at placekicker and won the job over veteran Alex Tejada and recruited kicker Eddie Camara.
Hocker also holds the record for the number of PATs made (143) and PAT attempts (145).
Cobi Hamilton extended his consecutive games with a reception to 33. His first reception came on a second-and-7 on Arkansas’ first possession. Hamilton’s catch was good for 9 yards and a first down. Hamilton scored his first touchdown since the Rutgers game, catching a 30-yard strike from Tyler Wilson with 4:24 left in the first quarter to make it 7-7. It was his fifth TD of the season.
MSU Breaks Cycle
Arkansas’ streak of three straight victories over Mississippi State ended Saturday. After leading only 17-14 at the half, the Bulldogs ran wild in the second half and ended up with a 45-14 victory. The 45 points were the most scored by Mississippi State against the Razorbacks.
Arkansas had had beaten the Bulldogs 12 of the last 13 games. In its last trip to Starkville, Arkansas defeated Mississippi State 38-31 in two overtimes.
Both teams were coming off losses — Arkansas, 38-20 to South Carolina, and Mississippi State to LSU, 37-17 to LSU.
Ins And Outs
Arkansas running back Knile Davis, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring pull, got five carries Saturday, but managed only 6 yards. Three other key players were held out of Saturday’s game: tight end Chris Gragg, who missed his third straight game with a knee/leg injury; Terrell Williams, a senior linebacker who was arrested for driving while intoxicated and missed the South Carolina game a week ago; and Nate Holmes, who suffered an injury “above the shoulders,” against South Carolina.
Coach John L. Smith said Williams, who has been practicing, may have a chance to return to action against LSU on Friday in the season finale.
The victory over Arkansas marked only the 16th time in Mississippi State’s history that the school has won eight games and only the seventh since 1981. The Bulldogs began the season 7-0, but dropped three straight to Alabama, Texas A&M, and LSU — the three top teams in the SEC Western Division.
Head coach Dan Mullen, who is in his fourth season, is the fifth-winningest coach in school history with 29 victories.
Mississippi State on Saturday honored defensive end Nick Bell, who died of cancer in November 2010. Bell’s name and number (36) were painted in the north end zone. It was Senior Day for Mississippi State and it would have been Bell’s final game in Starkville.
The Bessemer, Ala., product was diagnosed in September 2010 after having headaches during football practice. He had surgery on Oct. 1 of that year, then had another surgery the day before he died after doctors discovered the cancer had aggressively spread.
For the second straight week, Arkansas started two freshman linebackers — Otha Peters of Covington, La., and A.J. Turner of Lepanto. Peters was in on eight tackles and Turner five. Peters was the second-leading tackler Saturday, one shy of Rohan Gaines.
In his first start against South Carolina, Peters was the leading tackler for Arkansas with eight. Turner added six against the Gamecocks.
Arkansas opened the Mississippi State game with David Hurd, Tyler Deacon, Travis Swanson, Alvin Bailey and Jason Peacock on the offensive line. Swanson and Bailey have started all 37 games in their collegiate careers. Both were on various watch lists to begin the season. The line has allowed one sack or less in eight games this season.
Mississippi State did not record a sack.
Fourth On Road
Arkansas played only four games on the road this season, the final one the 45-14 loss to Mississippi State, making the road record for 2012 1-4. Arkansas hosts its sixth game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville on Friday against LSU and played two home games at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Arkansas is 3-2 in Fayetteville games going into LSU, but lost both games in Little Rock — against Louisiana-Monroe and Ole Miss.
Arkansas played in a record six games this season that kicked off before noon in the Central time zone. The Mississippi State game was an 11:21 a.m. game on the SEC Network — Arkansas’ fourth game on the regional network.
Two 11 a.m. games were on ESPN2 and CBS. The season’s final game is a 1:30 p.m. kickoff in Fayetteville — a nationally broadcast game on CBS.