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Post Will their schedule help or hurt the Arkansas hype?

Thursday May 13, 2010

The buildup and reaction to the buildup of Arkansas can’t be avoided this week, so we’ll look at the Razorbacks this way: will their schedule help or hurt a team with such increasing expectations? Last season we looked at the Arkansas schedule and saw a stretch where survival was the best they could hope for:

They’ll start the season 1-0, but delivering on the hype surrounding Ryan Mallet and finishing 7-5 or better might require them to come out of that stretch at no worse than 3-4.

That’s just what happened. Arkansas emerged from their gauntlet at 3-4 thanks to wins over Texas A&M and Auburn and then proceeded to run off a string of wins that was only interrupted by an overtime loss to LSU. The friendlier second half of the season helped them rebound and build the kind of momentum that has people talking entering the 2010 season. Will their 2010 schedule be as tough? It’s not as bad, but it presents a similar challenge.

Sept. 4: Tennessee Tech
Sept. 11: Louisiana-Monroe (Little Rock)
Sept. 18: at Georgia
Sept. 25: Alabama
Oct. 9: Texas A&M (Southwest Classic – Arlington, Texas)
Oct. 16: at Auburn
Oct. 23: Ole Miss
Oct. 30: Vanderbilt
Nov. 6: at South Carolina
Nov. 13: UTEP
Nov. 20: at Mississippi State
Nov. 27: LSU (Little Rock)


It’s manageable. The games with Texas A&M and UTEP stand out. Texas A&M should be improved and looking for payback after last year’s big loss to Arkansas. The game in Arlington isn’t exactly an Aggie home game, but it’s still Arkansas’ only trip away from home outside of the SEC. UTEP could put up enough points to make things interesting.


It’s not that road games at Georgia, Auburn, or South Carolina are easy, but the conference slate lines up about as well as it could for them. Florida drops off the schedule, and they pick up Vanderbilt. They get to play the Alabama-LSU duo within the state of Arkansas.

The challenge

The schedule is once again pretty front-loaded though it’s not as daunting as last year’s grind. They’ll have the chance to run off some wins starting with the Ole Miss game, but in what shape will they arrive at that game? They’ll have to upset Alabama or win on the road at Georgia to avoid starting 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the SEC. More road challenges against A&M and at Auburn present opportunities to pick up another loss. What would a 3-3 start do to this preseason momentum?

Arkansas was an outstanding 8-1 last year at home and neutral sites (making that Georgia win all the more incredible). That 0-4 road mark is what will have to change in order for the Hogs to take the next step this year. Of course each of their four road games last year was against a team who spent time in the Top 10, and that won’t be the case in 2010.

If the Hogs can get through the first half of the season at no worse than 4-2, the schedule affords Arkansas a chance to get to nine wins. South Carolina and Mississippi State are potential pitfalls if only because they’ll be road games. The season finale with LSU is usually interesting, and the unknown direction LSU will take this year adds to the buildup. Will it be, as it was in 2002, a game between two good teams to decide who goes to the Dome? Or will Arkansas have a chance to bury Les Miles?

Getting to the midpoint of the season in good shape will depend on how well the Hogs can do outside of their state. If they can’t get past Alabama in Fayetteville, they’re going to have to win 2 of 3 on the road against Georgia, A&M, and Auburn in order to emerge at least 4-2 with hopes of a breakthrough season more or less intact. Their 7-5 regular season a year ago was progress, but just maintaining that kind of record would be a disappointment this year. If they leave Auburn at 3-3 or worse, they’ll have very little room for error down the stretch to come out of the season with a record to match the preseason hype.

One Response to 'Will their schedule help or hurt the Arkansas hype?'

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  • Arkansas has an offense that is good but not great…especially against great defenses

    Their D still is absolutely terrible and them returning starters on D is probably a bad thing