After a disappointing 4-8 season a year ago, the biggest question that every Hog fan has is: will the Arkansas Razorbacks make it to a bowl game this year?
At this point, it’s really tough to make that call, since the Razorbacks have a number of questions to answer. In addition to finding a starter to replace Tyler Wilson, the Hogs need to shore up their secondary, which finished 113th against the pass last season. Since the players need to learn new schemes on both sides of the ball, it might take the Razorbacks some time to figure things out.
Unfortunately, time is not a luxury that Arkansas has. If the Hogs are going to make it to the postseason, it’s imperative that they jump out to a 4-0 start in non-conference play.
A quick review of the Razorback schedule will bear this out.
There’s no other way to say it: Arkansas plays the most brutal conference schedule in the country. The Hogs open up SEC play with the Texas A&M Aggies, Florida Gators, South Carolina Gamecocks and Alabama Crimson Tide, each of whom posted double-digit wins last season. Add in the LSU Tigers for the season finale, and the Razorbacks will face five of the six SEC teams that finished in the top ten of the final BCS standings last year.
Even the most optimistic fan would have to concede that UA will lose all five of those contests. The Hogs simply don’t have the personnel on campus to defeat any of these squads, which will likely start the season in the top ten.
That leaves contests with the Auburn Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels and Mississippi State Bulldogs to decide the Razorbacks’ fate. Arkansas has to like its chances to win at least two of these games. After all, it beat the Tigers last season, and has an extra week to prepare for the Bulldogs, who lose star cornerbacks Darius Slay and Johnthan Banks to the NFL.
However, without an undefeated non-conference record, the Hogs will have to win all three to make it to a bowl game. Beating the Rebels—who return 18 starters from a year ago—in Oxford is probably asking a little too much from the Razorbacks… this season.
In other words, if Arkansas is going to make a bowl game in Bret Bielema‘s initial season, it must run the table against Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, Samford Bulldogs, Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and Rutgers Scarlett Knights. Otherwise, it will stay home again this year.