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Kentucky at Arkansas -- Game breakdown

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Well, it's time to take a look at the Kentucky at Arkansas game today.  We have already heard from Razorback Expats about what they think, they have heard from us what we think, and now it's time to break the game down on paper.

First, we'll go to the statistics, and see what damn lies they can tell us:

Statistic UK Opponents Differential Arkansas Opponents Differential
Points / Game 48.70 21.30 27.40 42.00 33.50 8.50
Yards / Game 504.00 374.00 130.00 478.50 413.00 65.50
Rushing Yards / Game 246.30 185.00 61.30 325.50 142.50 183.00
Passing Yards / Game 257.70 189.00 68.70 153.00 270.50 (117.50)
Yards / Play 6.90 5.10 1.80 6.40 5.20 1.20
Rushing Yards / Carry 6.30 4.80 1.50 6.30 4.40 1.90
Passing Yards / Attempt 7.70 5.50 2.10 6.50 5.80 0.80
Passing Yards / Completion 11.40 10.10 1.20 12.20 13.20 (1.00)
Passing Completion % 67.30 54.40 13.00 53.20 43.60 9.60
Punt Return Average 7.00 9.50 (2.50) 0.30 13.20 (12.90)
Yards / 7 Points 72.50 122.70 50.20 79.70 86.30 6.50
Plays / 7 Points 10.50 24.00 13.50 12.50 16.60 4.10
Rushing Play % 53.90 53.00 0.90 68.70 40.90 27.80
Passing Play % 46.10 47.00 (0.90) 31.30 59.10 (27.80)
Turnovers / Game 0.70 2.70 2.00 2.50 2.00 (0.50)
Fumbles / Game 0.30 1.00 0.70 2.00 0.50 (1.50)
Intercept / Game 0.30 1.70 1.30 0.50 1.50 1.00
Turnover % 0.90 3.70 2.70 3.30 2.50 (0.80)
Fumble % 0.80 2.60 1.70 3.90 1.50 (2.30)
Intercept % 1.00 4.90 3.90 2.10 3.20 1.10

Well, as you can see, there is just all kinds of neat stuff to look at here.  What I have done is highlighted in yellow the areas that appear to favor UK, and in green the areas that appear to favor Arkansas.  While there are no real surprises (i.e. Arkansas is a much better rushing team, and UK is a much better passing team), there are a few things that stood out to me.

Offense:

No surprises here.  Arkansas likes to run the ball, and does so very well.  UK has a multidimensional attack, running and passing with efficiency.  Notice the rushing yards/carry statistic -- we are getting as much out of our backs, per carry, as Arkansas is out of the dynamic duo of McFadden and Jones.

Next, notice the passing yards/game.  They are actually allowing more passing yardage per game than we are averaging.  This should frighten Houston Nutt to his core.  Also, notice that Arkansas is not a quick-strike team, averaging two more plays per 7 points than is Kentucky.

In summary, the Wildcats are showing a very powerful, very balanced offensive attack, while Arkansas is pretty much a running team.  Keep in mind that their star wide receiver, Marcus Monk, was hurt pre-season and isn't expected to return until later this year.

Defense:

First, take a look at yards per game allowed.  Now, UK has two cupcakes and a top ten under it's belt, and Arkansas has Troy and Alabama (a pretty darn good team).  But Arkansas is allowing opponents to gain 413 yards per game, while UK's much-maligned defense is only allowing 374 yards per game.  Another thing that kind of surprises you when you look at it is that Arkansas is only allowing opponents a 43.6% completion percentage passing.  Considering that their pass defense is next to last in the SEC, it surprised me to find that their pass efficiency defense is actually better than UK's, although arguably, UK has played the tougher passing teams so far.

Then,  take a look at the intercept percent.  UK leads in this statistic by nearly 2-1. Turnover and fumble percentages also weigh heavily in UK's favor.  I don't believe I can overestimate how much valuing the football has helped Kentucky this year.  We will need for that to continue on Saturday.

Special teams:

Take a look at the Razorback's punt coverage.  Arkansas is allowing an average of 13 yards/return.  Now, our punt coverage has certainly not been something to brag about, but this statistic for Arkansas is downright dismal.  With Raphael Little returning punts, this could be one of those special-teams things that bites them in the behind.

Conclusion:

On paper, the Wildcats are looking really good in this matchup.  In reality, Arkansas has more talented people on both their offensive and defensive lines.  We bow to no one at skill positions, even the deadly Darren McFadden.  They have better depth at line positions than we do, and that is a thing to worry about.

Also, their secondary, despite its dismal performance so far, is actually very talented.  Should the decide to rise up and play to their ability, André Woodson's interception streak could come to an end.  Also, the Hogs are at home, and that will make up for a number of these paper deficiencies.

Historically, we have only played Arkansas in football 4 times previous to this, splitting those games right down the middle.  Neither team would consider this a rivalry game, but Arkansas is smarting from a surprising last-minute loss to Alabama while we are still celebrating our victory over a despised rival.

I'm going with the Cats in this one, but only by a little, 40-30.  We have yet to play a game on the road this year, and last year, Woodson & Co. were markedly less efficient in road games, so I am a little soft on the outcome.  It should be a good game, but this one will be a real test of whether or not the Wildcats will be contending in the East, or content with another bowl game.