Photo courtesy of Arkansas athletics

Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach made his Starkville debut on Saturday. Unfortunately for Leach, the night belonged to Arkansas’ Sam Pittman.

The first-year head coach led the Razorbacks to a thrilling 21-14 victory over the No. 16 Bulldogs. This comes a week after Arkansas made things tough on Georgia for a half.

With the victory, Arkansas earns Fifth Quarter’s Team of the Week honors.

It’s Been a While

Entering Saturday’s contest, Arkansas had lost 20 straight SEC games. The Razorbacks had also lost 15 straight games to AP-ranked opponents.

Both of those streaks fell by the wayside on Saturday. The win was the first over an SEC foe for Arkansas since edging Ole Miss 38-37 on Oct. 28, 2017.

That was the lone SEC victory over the last three seasons for Arkansas. Arkansas had not defeated an AP ranked team since topping No. 10 Florida on Nov. 5, 2016 by a 31-10 score.

2016 was also the last time that Arkansas had started 1-1 until this season. The victory is the first for Pittman as head coach.

Defense Shines

The story for Arkansas on Saturday night was the defense. In the opener against reigning national champion LSU, Mississippi State walked into Death Valley and stunned the Tigers, 44-34.

Quarterback K.J. Costello set an SEC record with 623 passing yards to go with five touchdown passes in the victory. Against Arkansas on Saturday night, the Bulldogs managed 400 yards, but turned the ball over four times.

Greg Brooks Jr. got the scoring started for the Razorbacks with a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown less than four minutes in. Junior Joe Foucha recorded two interceptions in the victory.

As a team, Arkansas held Mississippi State to 4.7 yards per play. Eric Gregory had the only sack for Arkansas.

On offense, former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks was efficient, finishing 20-for-28 passing for the Razorbacks with 212 yards and two touchdowns. De’Vion Warren finished with four catches for a game-high 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. Tight end Hudson Henry also caught a touchdown in the win.

Up Next

With the win, Arkansas improved to 1-1 on the season. The Razorbacks will now prepare to visit No. 13 Auburn on Saturday. Auburn defeated Arkansas last season in Fayetteville, 51-10.

Should Arkansas pull off another upset, it would mark the first time that the Razorbacks held a winning record in October since 2016. Saturday’s contest at Jordan-Hare Stadium begins at 4 p.m. ET and airs on SEC Network.

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.