STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — For the Arkansas Razorbacks and their interim coach, the season of discontent continues. Arkansas dropped its third consecutive SEC game Saturday, losing to Mississippi State 45-14 on the road.
With only LSU remaining on its schedule, coach John L. Smith said it's been tough to navigate this team through a season's worth of lost expectations.
"You want to keep it as simple as you can keep it, but yet you still want to have some bullets in your gun," Smith said. "Or else you will get stomped on. So how many bullets do you use? We are asking guys to do things that maybe they can't do. It's hard for veteran guys, let alone young guys."
Arkansas (4-7, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) turned the ball over five times Saturday, failing to capitalize on its 359 yards of total offense.
"I wish I had the answer for you," center Travis Swanson said. "You can't really explain it. Situations happen, and you just have to be ready to overcome it."
Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3) finished with 505 yards of total offense, 302 through the air and snapped a three-game losing streak against the Razorbacks.
"Sometimes it's a test of your character, who you are deep down inside, and how long you can stay positive," Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said.
Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns, setting school records for most completions and yards in a season. Russell completed 19 of 32 passes, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to LaDarius Perkins on the game's opening drive. Perkins finished with 131 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
"We made some big plays, created some turnovers, and took advantage of those turnovers," Mullen said. "We had a great streak of defensive turnovers early in the season until we recently hit a bit of a slump. I think once we created that first turnover today, the guys decided to switch back into that play-making mentality."
It wasn't all pretty for the Bulldogs early, though. Wilson and the Arkansas offense moved the ball with ease on their first two possessions, and after back-to-back touchdown passes to Cobi Hamilton and Dennis Johnson, the Razorbacks led 14-7.
"We had a really good first half, and we were in the game," Wilson said. "I thought a number of those guys in the locker room thought we had a chance at winning."