SEC SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN: ARKANSAS
Make or break year for the Hogs?
Welcome back to our SEC schedule breakdown. So far I have picked Auburn to finish 14th, Kentucky 13th, South Carolina 12th, Missouri 11th, Mississippi State 10th, Vanderbilt 9th, and Texas A&M 8th, and Florida 7th.
And now my pick to finish sixth in the SEC in 2016.
The Pick: Arkansas
League Finish: 6th
Division Finish: 4th
SEC Record: 5-3
Overall Record: 9-3
Bowl Game: TaxSlayer Bowl
This is a bit of a hard year to predict for the Hogs, I have a strong feeling by the end of the season they will be playing some of the best football in the country. However, with all they have to replace on offense I can see them getting off to a slow start.
The challenges the Hogs will face in replacing key players could really hurt them in early SEC games verses Texas A&M and Alabama. As well as a non-conference matchup with TCU.
Austin Allen will take over for his older brother Brandon at the quarterback position. The Razorbacks will also have to replace both Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams in the backfield.
Bret Bielema is defiantly a coach that can keep Arkansas near the top of the SEC West standings and handle the challenges that the Hogs will face early. If Arkansas can get things pulled together quickly, Allen plays well and they find a solid running back the Hogs won’t be an easy win for anyone in 2016.
While I don’t think that Arkansas finishes as high in the SEC standings this season, I do see an increases from last season’s 8-5 finish. The Hogs floor this season is 7-5 and their ceiling is 9-3. That’s exactly where I see the Hogs finishing the regular season, with a chance at a 10-win season if they can win their bowl game.
Week one Arkansas vs. Louisiana Tech. Sat, Sept. 3rd
The Hogs host the Bulldogs in a week one matchup between two teams looking to replace a large number of key starters. Both teams will be replacing their starting quarterback and running back. This game could be low scoring as both offenses try to rediscover themselves. Arkansas will have the more talented roster and better defense witch should get them the win in this matchup.
Week two Arkansas @ TCU. Sat, Sept. 10th
This early season SEC/Big 12 matchup could be one of the best games of week two and will be a major test for both teams. A win here would go a long way in helping both teams to improved season in 2016. The Hogs could easily loss this one as they will have a lot more questions to answer than the Frogs. However, the Hogs will have the better defense and can keep this close. I’m picking Arkansas to pull off a bit of an upset on the road at TCU thanks to its defense.
Week three Arkansas vs. Texas State. Sat, Sept. 17th
This one is pretty simple to call Arkansas’s offense will find a nice rhythm in this game. The Hogs defense will be too much for Texas State to score on more than twice and let’s face it the Razorbacks just have the better roster in this matchup. Hogs win and move to 3-0 on the season, but the road is about to get a lot harder.
Week four Arkansas vs. Texas A&M. Sat, Sept. 24th
This one is a swing game for both teams and it will be played on a major stage at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This is the game where losing six starters on offense and your back up runningback could really catchup with the Hogs. They will be playing one of the nation’s best defensive coordinator in John Chavis. It scares me to pick the Hogs in this one, but I just have a feeling this comes down to who gets the momentum early. I just have a feeling that the Hogs find some early success and get the win moving to 4-0.
Week five Arkansas vs. Alcorn State. Sat, Oct. 1st
I know I have said that the Hogs could struggle early and yet I have them at 4-0 entering their week five matchup with Alcorn St. and they will move to 5-0 this week. The reason is three of their first five games are against subpar opponents. For example, this week’s matchup Arkansas is just the better team and has too much talent for Alcorn St. to keep up for 60 minuets. The other two games TCU and Texas A&M, I think the Hogs get lucky and find a way to win. This week is the end of the easy road for the Hogs as they will play SEC opponents for the rest of the season. I think Arkansas finds a way to enter week six 5-0, but they could easily be 3-2 when the Crimson Tide roles into town.
Week six Arkansas vs. Alabama. Sat, Oct. 8th
This one could be a pivotal game for both teams in week six of the season. Arkansas should be 5-0 and 1-0 in the SEC. While Alabama should be undefeated as well and a loss here would seriously hurt both teams SEC West title hopes. When you look at the West this year two losses should end your titles hopes and avoiding an early season loss is obviously important. This one could be close heading into the fourth quarter, but Alabama has the better roster and will pull away late. Bama hands the Hogs their first loss of the season and proves the Hogs still have some issues to work on.
Week seven Arkansas vs. Ole Miss. Sat, Oct. 8th
The Hogs will be coming off a loss and Ole Miss will have one loss as well in SEC play. Like I just said a second loss in SEC play will probably end you title hopes if you play in the SEC West. This is a must win for both teams to keep their hopes of playing in Atlanta alive. While I think Austin Allen will wind up proving to be a really good quarterback, he won’t be as good as Chad Kelly and he will be the difference in this game. This matchup will come down to which QB can make more plays and I have to go with Kelly and Ole Miss to win.
Week eight Arkansas @ Auburn. Sat, Oct. 22nd
The Hogs will have lost back to back games entering week eight’s trip to Auburn. Meanwhile for the Tigers they will be dealing with their own issues at this point in the season. There is a good chance Gus Malzahn could be out as the Tigers head coach by this point or fighting for his job each week. That kind of situation puts a lot of pressure on the players and it normally doesn’t go well. However, I could see this one being a game the Tigers could still if they can finally get everything to click, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Arkansas should take care of business and get to 6-2 with this win.
Week ten Arkansas vs. Florida. Sat, Nov. 5th
The Gators come to town and Arkansas will be coming off of their buy week. The rest should help the Hogs and I think this is where they can really make their mark on the SEC this season. Entering the game Arkansas should be 6-2 and 2-2 in the SEC. This one could be a swing game, but the more I think about this game the more I can’t makeup my mind who to pick. Part of me says Florida could steal this game, but I also think Arkansas will be too good for just about anyone to hang with. I think somehow Florida find a way to win and hands the Hogs their third SEC loss, but this is a game like I said earlier I can’t decide on.
Week eleven Arkansas vs. LSU. Sat, Nov. 12th
This one will be a fun matchup to watch, the Hogs have found a way of picking of a top teams late in the season under Bielema. LSU will be one of the nation’s best teams in 2016 and could very well be undefeated still by this point of the season. Arkansas has found a way to beat the Tigers the last two years and in front of their home crowd they make it three in a row verses LSU.
Week twelve Arkansas @ Mississippi State. Sat, Nov. 19th
The Hogs could be on upset alert after their big win last week over LSU, but Miss. St. will need a perfect game to beat the Hogs. If Arkansas can avoid the letdown after their big win than this one is easy to pick. The Hogs just have to much talent for the Bulldogs this year. Hogs win and move to 8-3 on the season heading into the final week of the regular season.
Week thirteen Arkansas @ Missouri. Fri, Nov. 25th
The Tigers could keep this one close due to their stellar defense. However, the issue is that Missouri’s defense will be worn out and beat up by the season’s final week, due to their offenses inability to do anything positive. Arkansas just like Tennessee the week before should be able to pull away at some point during the game due to the talent of their offense’s and running game.
The Hogs should finish the regular season at 9-3 and 5-3 in SEC play. Giving them a solid season, but leaving them on the outside looking in for the SEC Championship. Arkansas will have a shot at a ten win season when their bowl game rolls around and I think Razorback fans will be happy with that.