Favorite

Arkansas 2015 football preview, part three 

Two-thirds of the Hog schedule now behind us in our three-part, ritualistic, sometimes-self-immolating season preview, we turn to the final month of action. In both of Bret Bielema's two seasons here, this has been a pretty good month, or at least as good as a 2-6 record in those months can be.

The Razorbacks were a downtrodden, rudderless squad in 2013, but Brandon Allen's health improved and the team definitely benefited. Arkansas nearly knocked off Mississippi State and LSU to end the 0-8 SEC slate and was exceptionally competitive against Ole Miss and Auburn late in the year as well. Last fall, the Hogs fought off weeks of narrow margins to blow out LSU and Ole Miss at home in the cold November rain, and bookended the month with close losses at Starkville, Miss., and Columbia, Mo.

This time, it's a month that can and should determine just how deeply into the playoff season Arkansas can go. Sporting a 7-1 record by our projections after the September-October gauntlet, the Hogs enter the final quartet of games with big aspirations, but it's not the same kind of schedule this year, at least as far as difficulty goes:

Nov. 7 at Ole Miss — The buzz that continues to linger around Oxford as Hugh Freeze recruits in a manner that seems to defy odds, convention and possibly ethics (just kidding, I think) is deafening again. The Rebels are still well equipped to win the division, and undoubtedly stinging after Arkansas won 30-0 last year. Bo Wallace is finally departed, which despite his three years of copious production may yield more consistency.

The Hogs will score some in this one, but the Rebels shock the defense by running straight through it. And it's that power game that befuddles Robb Smith's crew, so much so that the Hogs end up giving up a season-worst rushing total and give away hopes of a division crown. A bright spot for the good guys: Hunter Henry crosses 1,000 yards receiving for the season in only the ninth game with a 185-yard effort. Rebels 33, Hogs 23.

Nov. 14 at LSU — Reeling from the physical torture that Ole Miss meted out, the Hogs struggle from the start in Baton Rouge. Leonard Fournette scores twice in the first quarter to ensure that the Tigers will not suffer the ignominy of consecutive shutouts at the hands of the Hogs.

Arkansas never reclaims the lead, tying it twice in the second half on Brandon Allen scoring throws, first to Kody Walker and next to Jeremy Sprinkle. But the Tigers show resiliency and finish the win late thanks to Brandon Harris relieving Anthony Jennings and firing a couple of big throws to Travin Dural late. Two straight losses big down the feel-good for a tick as the Razorbacks plummet in the rankings. Tigers 27, Hogs 20.

Nov. 21 vs. Mississippi State — The Bulldogs are well beyond bruised at this point. Heisman hopeful Dak Prescott has to sit this one out due to lingering ankle issues, and the Hogs benefit from that, as well as the return to Fayetteville and the hospitable circumstances there.

Without the rugged and mobile Prescott to deal with, an angry Razorback defensive line tees off on anyone and everyone populating the Bulldog backfield. A rousing first half in which Arkansas outgains Mississippi State more than 300 yards to 50 ends with the Hogs up 24-3. It gets worse thereafter as two backup quarterbacks, Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey, get extended looks and each throws a scoring pass in a decisive rout. Hogs 44, Bulldogs 13.

Nov. 27 vs. Missouri — Oddly, the rivalry game that never felt like a rivalry takes on a decidedly spicy tone because of a pregame skirmish and the controversial officiating that bottlenecked a potential Razorback rout last year. Gary Pinkel does not bring in a stacked team this time, and in fact, Mizzou is barely bowl eligible and scraping for better placement in December, a role reversal of last year's game.

The Hogs are chippy and fiery for the finale. Motivated by all these factors, Allen closes out his senior season in high style. Throwing on the run and having a blast doing it, the normally stoic passer hits 400 yards for the first time as Dan Enos loosens the leash. Keon Hatcher also joins Henry with a 1,000-yard receiving campaign and the Hogs wrap up a 9-3, 5-3 regular season.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    July 20, 2017
    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions? /more/
  • Summer hopes

    June 22, 2017
    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere. /more/
  • Changes needed

    January 5, 2017
    Those who have read this column with some degree of regularity know that I've held fast to the belief that Bret Bielema can and will revive the Arkansas football program. /more/
  • Hogs' Jeremy Sprinkle suspended from Belk Bowl; cited for concealing items at department store

    December 29, 2016
    Razorback tight end Jeremy Sprinkle was suspended hours before the Hogs Belk Bowl game with Virginia Tech. The school didn't specify the reason, but SEC Country reports it was for trying to take unpurchased items from a Belk Department Store after a $450 shopping spree for players. /more/
  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    December 8, 2016
    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte. /more/
  • Woeful

    December 1, 2016
    On Thanksgiving night, Bret Bielema could settle into his bed knowing that after a rather miserable 2013 inauguration, he had slipped comfortably into his job and the results were bearing some small but edible fruits for this ravenous fan base. He was only 25-24, but 18-10 with two bowl wins over his last 28 contests, a smattering of takedowns of ranked teams, and a stabilized roster that showed off the staff's endeavors to enlist and develop a caliber of player that would lead to better days ahead in a rugged conference. /more/
  • Deflated

    November 17, 2016
    Foolish consistency, per Emerson, is the hobgoblin of little minds. What commentary he would've offered about the Arkansas Razorbacks' 10 weeks of wild inconsistency is for debate, but he might've been more profane than pithy if he had to sit through this madness. /more/
  • After Auburn

    October 27, 2016
    I'm not one for hyperbole, but the mere mention of "56-3" changes things. /more/
  • Lessons learned

    October 20, 2016
    Picture Bret Bielema pole-vaulting for a minute. Then, once the laughter subsides, hear me out with this absurd analogy. /more/
  • UA faculty member apologizes for cursing football coach

    October 11, 2016
    The University of Arkansas faculty member who was arrested after cursing Hog football coach Bret Bielema following the Razorbacks' loss has apologized for his actions. /more/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions?
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Basketball prospects

    While it is a little difficult to prognosticate on anything pertaining to college basketball anymore, short of the blue bloods getting bluer every recruiting season, what has happened to Arkansas since it finished off an accomplished 2016-17 campaign is probably as subtly bewildering as any offseason machinations you'll see.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Summer hopes

    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions?
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Basketball prospects

    While it is a little difficult to prognosticate on anything pertaining to college basketball anymore, short of the blue bloods getting bluer every recruiting season, what has happened to Arkansas since it finished off an accomplished 2016-17 campaign is probably as subtly bewildering as any offseason machinations you'll see.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Summer hopes

    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The edge of night

    • I would hate to plan on a site only to find it cloudy or raining…

    • on July 25, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation