STARKVILLE, Miss. — As he tries to help Arkansas mount a second half comeback at the site of one of his best games, Bumper Pool is closing in on a major school record.
The super senior linebacker needs just two more tackles in Saturday’s game at No. 23 Mississippi State to break the UA career record after racking up 12 in a first half after which Arkansas entered halftime down 21-10. He entered the matchup second on the all-time list with 395 tackles.
(Scroll below for live updates from the Arkansas vs Mississippi State game)
“Football is such a physical sport, and linebackers have to be tough,” head coach Sam Pittman said. “Bump has went through a lot of injuries and things of that nature to get to this point in his career.”
For nearly two decades, the record has been held by Tony Bua. An undersized and unheralded recruit, he quickly developed a reputation for being a hard-hitter for the Razorbacks and finished his career — which was 2000-03 — with 408 tackles.
“I think Tony being such a great person makes it even more special,” Pool said. “I had the opportunity to talk to him before the Texas A&M game. Just kind of to see his determination on the field and then again off the field at the age he’s at now, he’s got that fire in him.”
Even though he wasn’t an in-state recruit, playing his high school ball in Texas, Pool is essentially an in-state kid. He grew up an Arkansas fan and jumped at an opportunity to play for the Razorbacks as a four-star recruit in the 2018 class.
While Bua racked up his 408 tackles in a traditional four-year career, Pool is set to break the record — whether this week or next — in his fifth season that he was granted because of the pandemic-related eligibility relief from the NCAA. That won’t lessen it’s significance down the road, though.
“I had a talk with him about his kids when he grows up and what his kids are going to be able to say,” Pittman said. “I think one of the greatest things they’ll be able to tell their buddies at school, hopefully he can get the record, that my daddy had more tackles than anyone else in the history of Arkansas football. I think that would be really cool. I think that would mean something to him.”
As big of a deal the potential record is, Pool’s primary focus is helping the Razorbacks snap their two-game skid. Doing so will likely require better defense than they’ve played through five games.
Luckily for Arkansas, Davis Wade Stadium is somewhere it has had success in recent memory. Just two years ago, the Razorbacks knocked off No. 16 Mississippi State 21-14 behind a fantastic defensive performance led by Pool’s career-high 20 tackles.
“Being able to get the win, having those 20 tackles, just a great moment for myself and for the entire team and getting that ‘turn the jukebox on’ thing,” Pool said. “Just very special. We have it in the back of our mind to get that swagger back this week and get back in there.”
Live Updates – Arkansas vs Mississippi State
Arkansas Wins Coin Toss
The Razorbacks, as they have all last year, deferred to the second half. Mississippi State will receive the game’s opening kickoff.
Jake Bates kicks off out of bounds for the first time this season, so Mississippi State will start at the 35 instead of the 25.
Bulldogs Gash Arkansas on the Ground
11:15, 1Q – Mississippi State 7, Arkansas 0
The Bulldogs opened up with three straight runs that picked up a total of 22 yards, quickly getting into Arkansas territory. A nice catch by Austin Williams later in the drive picked up 20 yards and got them down to the 4. Two plays and an offsides penalty later, Dillon Johnson punched it in from the 1.
Cade Fortin Starts for Arkansas Football
Fortin’s first completion of the game comes on third-and-3 to Rocket Sanders out of the backfield. Mississippi State missed a tackle on the play, allowing Sanders to get the first down. The next set of downs went backwards, as Fortin was sacked on third down to force a punt.
Max Fletcher punt was downed at the MSU 45. It was a 25-yard punt.
Mississippi State Scores Again
4:10, 1Q – Mississippi State 14, Arkansas 0
Mississippi State once again keeps things on the ground to much success. Included on this drive was a 4-yard run on fourth-and-3. That set the Bulldogs up inside the 10.
On third-and-goal from the 5, Will Rogers had tons of time in the pocket and threw a touchdown pass to Jaden Walley. The pass appeared to go right through Malik Chavis’ hands.
Malik Hornsby at Quarterback
After a false start, Hornsby ripped off a 52-yard run on his first official play at quarterback.
Later in the drive, Hornsby kept it again and picked up five yards on third-and-4. Mississippi State was called for targeting on the play. After review, though, the flat was picked up.
Malik Hornsby to the Injury Tent
When play resumed, Cade Fortin was in at quarterback. Hornsby went to the tent.
Arkansas Turnover on Downs – 1:56, 1Q
After a stoppage in play for a MSU injury, Fortin attempted a pass into the end zone and it fell incomplete. The Razorbacks then went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 8 and Sanders was stuffed.
Malik Hornsby is now on the stationary bike on the sideline.
END of 1Q – Mississippi State 14, Arkansas 0
A 38-yard gain on a shovel pass got the Bulldogs into Arkansas territory. They’re facing a third-and-3 when play resumes.
Arkansas Defense Gets First Stop
The Razorbacks stuffed Mississippi State on third down, but gave up another fourth-down conversion. However, a personal foul on the Bulldogs forced them to try it again. On fourth-and-5, they were called for a delay of game and they decided to punt.
Archer Trafford’s punt was pinned inside the 1.
Arkansas Stuffed on Third-and-Short – 12:05, 2Q
Needing less than a yard to move the sticks, AJ Green is stuffed for no gain. It’s a three-and-out for the Razorbacks.
Punting from its own end zone, Arkansas called on Reid Bauer to punt for the first time this season. He got off a low, line drive punt that traveled 42 yards, but was returned 12 to the Arkansas 40.
Great Touchdown Catch by Austin Williams
9:03, 2Q – Mississippi State 21, Arkansas 0
On a third-down pass into the end zone, Simeon Blair nearly made a diving interception, but it deflected off his fingers. On fourth-and-3, Mississippi State runs for a first down. A few plays later, Rogers finds Williams in the front corner of the end zone for a touch catch with Khari Johnson in tight coverage.
Arkansas Gets on the Board
5:56, 2Q – Mississippi State 21, Arkansas 3
The Razorbacks covered 42 yards on nine plays, highlighted by a 21-yard strike from Hornsby to Ketron Jackson Jr. However, a false start and incompletion by Fortin led to them having to settle for a field goal. Cam Little ‘s 51-yard kick was good to end the shutout bid by Mississippi State.
Jayden Johnson Injured – 1:37, 2Q
Despite being deep in its own territory, Mississippi State went for it on fourth-and-1 and got it. It is now 3 for 4 on fourth downs.
Later in the drive, Hudson Clark nearly came up with an interception, but couldn’t come up with it. On the play, Jayden Johnson had to be helped off the field.
Hogs Force Turnover on Downs
Facing a fourth-and-1 from the Arkansas 29, Mississippi State went for it again. However, this time, Rogers’ pass was low and skipped in to his intended receiver.
Long Completion Sets up TD
1:11, 2Q – Mississippi State 21, Arkansas 10
After getting the ball back, Hornsby rolled to his right and found Jadon Haselwood open downfield. He hauled in the pass and took it 68 yards down to the 3. On the next play, Sanders scored.
Mississippi State Misses Field Goal – 0:13, 2Q
A quick 22-yard completion gets Mississippi State right back in field goal range. Following a 3-yard shovel pass, Mississippi State uses its first timeout with 42 seconds left in the half. It used its second timeout with 22 seconds left, facing a third-and-3 at the 22.
On the third-down play, Drew Sanders had Arkansas’ fourth near interception of the game. Facing fourth down, the Bulldogs used their last timeout of the game. They opted for a field goal and Ben Raybon’s 40-yard attempt was wide right.
HALF – Mississippi State 21, Arkansas 10
Arkansas picked up a good chunk of yards, but it came as time expired. That sends the game to halftime.
Disastrous Start to Second Half
Mississippi State’s opening kickoff in the second half was on the ground and AJ Green had a hard time fielding it. He was nearly tackled in the end zone after originally touching it around the 5, but got out to the 1. The Razorbacks then went three-and-out.
The lone silver lining was Reid Bauer’s booming 54-yard punt.
Mississippi State Scores on First Possession of Half
11:16, 3Q – Mississippi State 27, Arkansas 10
The Bulldogs needed just six plays to cover 58 yards, with the last 33 coming on a touchdown pass from Rogers to Caleb Ducking. Trent Gordon, playing for the injured Jayden Johnson, appeared to get beat on the play.
Goal Line Stand by Mississippi State – 8:16, 3Q
A long completion from Hornsby to Haselwood, covering 44 yards, got Arkansas in business. A few runs later, the Razorbacks had a first-and-goal from the 2.
However, back-to-back runs by Sanders and Dominique Johnson gained just one yard. On third down, Malik Hornsby had Matt Landers open in the flats for a would-be touchdown, but his throw was nowhere close.
On third down, the Razorbacks went empty formation, motioned a couple of tight ends back in and a running back into the backfield, and Rashod Dubinion was stuffed.
Arkansas Forces Second Punt of the Game – 5:53, 3Q
A 33-yard completion to Lideatrick Griffin gets Mississippi State out of the shadow of its own end zone. However, the drive was hindered by an offensive pass interference that put the Bulldogs in a first-and-25. They got 11 yards, but Arkansas got a third-down stop.
The second punt of the game by Mississippi State was a 46-yarder. Bryce Stephens tried to return it, but was hit almost immediately and ended up losing three yards.
Hornsby With a Dime to Stephens
3:33, 3Q – Mississippi State 27, Arkansas 17
Malik Hornsby threw an absolute strike 50-plus yards through the air and Bryce Stephens made an impressive catch for the touchdown. It was a 54-yard play and makes Hornsby 7 of 10 for 229 yards.
Mississippi State Answers with Help of Poor Tackling
0:54, 3Q – Mississippi State 34, Arkansas 17
With a chance to force a three-and-out, Arkansas allowed Mississippi State to convert a third-and-8 with a 9-yard completion. A few plays later, Dillon Johnson broke several tackles on a 30-yard touchdown run.
END of 3Q – Mississippi State 34, Arkansas 17
Hornsby scrambled for 10 yards to move the sticks, but now Arkansas is facing another third-and-10 when play resumes.
Hornsby Intercepted – 13:44, 4Q
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Hornsby scrambled for 25 yards to move the chains. That gives him 98 rushing yards today.
Facing yet another third down, Hornsby tried a swing pass to Sanders and it fell incomplete. The Razorbacks opted to go for it on fourth-and-7 and Hornsby was intercepted. He tried forcing a pass when no one was open.
Mississippi State Scores Again
10:28, 4Q – Mississippi State 40, Arkansas 17
Mississippi State marched right down the field, aided by a few penalties, and scored on a 2-yard run by Jo’quavious Marks. The PAT was doinked off the upright.
Arkansas has been flagged nine times for 79 yards.
Hornsby Intercepted Again – 7:23, 4Q
A decent drive that included a couple of solid runs by Rashod Dubinion ends when Hornsby doesn’t put enough air under a throw to Warren Thompson in the end zone. Emmanuel Forbes made a great play to come down with the interception.
Arkansas Forces Three-and-Out – 6:25, 4Q
An 8-yard run gives Mississippi State 158 rushing yards, its highest total of the Mike Leach era. However, on third-and-2, the Bulldogs tried to throw it and it was incomplete.
MSU’s 44-yard punt was downed at the Arkansas 28.
Hogs Go Three-and-Out – 3:49, 4Q
A false start penalty on Beaux Limmer backed them up and Hornsby wasn’t able to scramble his way to a third-and-long situation this time. Bauer got off a line drive punt, but it was a 44-yarder and AJ Green stopped the return man for a 5-yard loss.
FINAL – Mississippi State 40, Arkansas 17
The Razorbacks never got the ball back.
Pregame Observations, Injury Updates
All of the same specialists who traveled to the Texas A&M game are in Starkville: kickers Cam Little and Jake Bates, punters Max Fletcher and Reid Bauer, and long snappers Eli Stein and John Oehrlein.
Quarterback KJ Jefferson is dressed out and going through pregame warmups. He was taking snaps from first-team center Ricky Stromberg. However, in a 7 on 7 portion of warmups, Cade Fortin got first-team snaps. When they went team, though, Jefferson got first-team snaps.
Rocket Sanders came out during the portion of warmups for returners, quarterbacks and centers, and is getting extra ball-security work with someone who appears to be a GA. He hasn’t typically come out during this part of pregame.
A couple of changes from the 70-man travel roster against Texas A&M: freshman wide receiver Isaiah Sategna and freshman defensive back Jaylen Lewis made the trip.
The two players they replaced were nickel Myles Slusher and wide receiver Quincey McAdoo. Both of them are dealing with injuries.
How to Watch Arkansas vs Mississippi State
Date: Saturday, Oct. 8
Location: Davis Wade Stadium (Starkville, Miss.)
Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 11 a.m. CT (SEC Network)
Announcers: Dave Neal (play-by-play), Deuce McAllister (analyst), Tiffany Blackmon (sideline reporter)
Mississippi State’s Rankings: No. 23 (AP) | No. 23 (Coaches) | No. 11 (SP+) | No. 17 (FPI)
Arkansas’ Rankings: RV (AP) | No. 25 (Coaches) | No. 31 (SP+) | No. 41 (FPI)
Odds/Betting Line: Mississippi State, -9.5 | O/U 57.5 (FanDuel)
Arkansas vs Mississippi State Predictions
Here are several picks — including from our own managing editor, Andrew Hutchinson — and computer projections for the Arkansas vs Mississippi State matchup…
Andrew Hutchinson, BoAS (preseason): Mississippi State, 45-42 (click here to read Hutch’s full preseason predictions)
Sam Pittman is undefeated against Mike Leach, but both games have been extremely close. Two years ago, Arkansas needed two fourth-down stops inside the 15-yard line in the fourth quarter to preserve a 21-14 win. Last year, the Razorbacks benefitted from three missed field goals — including one as time expired — in a 31-28 win. This year, Mississippi State is in its third season under Leach and Will Rogers is an excellent quarterback. I see this being a shootout much like last year’s Ole Miss game and this time, Arkansas’ luck runs out.
Andrew Hutchinson, BoAS (updated): Mississippi State, 35-21
It would not surprise me to see Mississippi State score 45 points like I predicted before the season, as Arkansas defense has really struggled so far this season, but I’m not sure the Bulldogs will need to score that much. Of course, that’s operating on the assumption KJ Jefferson isn’t playing. He’s on the trip, but his status is still very much up in the air. If Cade Fortin and/or Malik Hornsby handle the quarterback duties, I see this as at least a two-score loss for the Razorbacks.
Mason Choate, HawgBeat: Mississippi State, 41-31 (click here for full breakdown of HawgBeat staff picks)
Trey Biddy, HawgSports: Mississippi State, 34-24 (click here for full breakdown of HawgSports staff picks)
Stefan Krajisnik, Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi State, 35-17 (click here for a full breakdown)
Vegas (using spread and O/U): Mississippi State, 33.5-24
ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 24.3% chance to win (down 15.0 percentage points from preseason projection)
Bill Connelly’s SP+: Mississippi State has a 68% chance to win, favored by 8.2 (projected score: 33-25)
Sagarin: Mississippi State has a 65% chance to win, favored by 5.77 (projected score: 35.4-30.6)
More coverage of Arkansas vs Mississippi State from BoAS…