Favorite

Arkansas Razorbacks 2016 football preview, part III 

A bye week caps off October so that the team heads to November in a rather unusually ideal position: eyeballing an SEC West title if someone can get Bama out of the way.

Bret Bielema - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Bret Bielema

We've forecast the Arkansas Razorbacks to overcome two projected obstacles of note — a generally unseasoned offensive line and backfield and a rigorous early schedule — to triumphantly plunge into November with a 7-1 mark, the only loss coming to Alabama at home, but followed by a sweet pair of league victories against Ole Miss and Auburn. (Read parts I and II.) A bye week caps off October so that the team heads to November in a rather unusually ideal position: eyeballing an SEC West title if someone can get Bama out of the way.

We don't think the Hogs will be able to sustain that dream scenario to its terminus but we're still finding this team well positioned to continue the demonstrative improvements made by each of Bret Bielema's teams here.

Florida at Fayetteville, Nov. 5: The Gators were a surprise last fall when first-year coach Jim McElwain captained them all the way to Atlanta, but the offense went punchless once Will Grier was suspended. The promising quarterback eventually left the program and some defensive stalwarts also exited for professional riches.

Florida is therefore an enigma, and will likely mirror its seasonal curve from 2015 again: strong early against paltry competition, which buoyed the Gators to that division title, but then floundering late. There's still an unnerving lack of skill position depth at a program that was robust with it for years.

Arkansas is well rested and more than happy to treat the Gators like a homecoming piñata, especially considering that Florida remains the one program the Hogs haven't conquered as an SEC member. That long drought dies on a chilly early November day, with Austin Allen's two scoring passes to Jared Cornelius keying a breakaway second half. Hogs 33, Gators 17.

LSU at Fayetteville, Nov. 12: LSU is now fully cognizant of how badly the Hogs can wreck a season, sustaining back-to-back beatdowns while ranked against Razorback teams not even on the periphery of the Top 25. For a program that often lacks due motivation, the Tigers are annoyed and hostile on this night.

Leonard Fournette, stunted somewhat by the Hogs his first two tries, has a fine all-around game with three total TDs, but the key in this win for the Tigers is what always seems to be at the heart of an LSU win in this series: special teams. A blocked field goal return for a score, and a long punt return for Derrius Guice, gets the Bayou Bengals momentum in a game that more or less decides who ends up second in the division.

The Hogs aren't bad in this one, but playing from behind all night takes its toll in a wild affair. Tigers 37, Hogs 34.

Mississippi State at Starkville, Nov. 19: Whereas the Hogs have done a princely job against the allegedly superior Magnolia State school, the Bulldogs have quietly carved out four successive wins against the Hogs, and in this one, have designs on a fifth one that would put them into bowl eligibility a year after their best-ever quarterback, Dak Prescott, has moved on to Cowboy Country.

Arkansas's presumed struggles in Starkville end on this misty night, however. Allen rebounds from a sloppy and uneven game against LSU to play turnover-free, safe football, and Kody Walker uses the tough sledding to author his finest game ever with 134 yards and three scores. The defense overwhelms Dan Mullen's spread attack due to the slowed conditions. Hogs hit the 9-2 mark comfortably. Hogs 41, Bulldogs 18.

Missouri at Columbia, Nov. 25: Arkansas has a chance to hit 10 wins against a completely retooling Missouri program, which can't quite find its groove offensively still but plays well enough on the other side of the ball to be competitive.

In a manufactured rivalry, the game hits a level of hostility finally when a frustrating first half for the visitors ends with a slew of undisciplined penalties. The Hogs fall behind in an ugly game, 17-6, but the resourcefulness to reach the double-digit win mark is undeniable after halftime.

Bret Bielema gets a measure of redemption for a would-be victory at Faurot Field in 2014 that slipped away late. The Razorbacks storm back in the fourth quarter with Rawleigh Williams and Devwah Whaley punching in close-range TDs, and Cole Hedlund does the ultimate honors with the first game-winning kick of his career, a 38-yarder with no time left. Hogs 23, Tigers 20.


Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Arkansas Razorbacks, Bret Bielema

  • 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/
  • Hawgball prospects

    March 30, 2017
    The sting of the "Grifters in Greenville" incident having finally dissipated somewhat, I am prepared to assess Razorback basketball anew. /more/
  • Tourney time

    March 16, 2017
    Selection Sunday hasn't been a meaningful day very often in recent years for Arkansas. Over the span of a decade, the Hogs knew they were safely within the expanded 68-team field only three times. /more/
  • Hogs going dancing

    March 9, 2017
    Even in a week where a modest winning streak went by the wayside at Gainesville, Arkansas authored one more earnest surge toward an NCAA Tournament berth that not long ago seemed beyond its grasp. /more/
  • Momentum

    February 23, 2017
    Sure, I'd like to think that Pearls About Swine, that modest batch of haphazard prose, had something to do with motivating Arkansas's beleaguered basketball program to rise from a seemingly inestimable late-season swoon to re-emerge in the NCAA Tournament discussion. /more/
  • Critical stretch

    January 19, 2017
    The minute you take a shine to an Arkansas Razorback team is almost assuredly the same minute you have your sanity tested. /more/
  • Solidly second tier

    January 12, 2017
    It only makes sense that in this numbing era of Razorback slip-and-falls, the Hogs could really put vaunted Kentucky to the test at Rupp Arena for a good 30 minutes of action ... and end up losing by 26 points. /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/
  • 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/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • 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
  • Overacheivers

    There are consequences to playing baseball for days on end, well into the wee hours, in stormy weather and chaotic circumstances. Arkansas learned that in the hardest of ways.
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • Baum bound

    Arkansas bookended its long stay in Hoover, Ala., with two agonizing, close losses. But the Hogs drew plenty of national attention for what they did in three successive wins between those defeats, and by extension, the SEC runner-up is not only hosting a regional again this weekend, but getting some well-merited adulation for sustaining this improbable rebound campaign.
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Hutchinson lobbyist moves to Teacher Retirement System

    Rett Hatcher, director of legislative affairs for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has left the governor's staff to go to work Wednesday as deputy director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
  • Monkey wrenches

    Junior is 17 now, and shows no interest in driving, or even taking the driving test. It's got his Old Man a little concerned, and not just because we're running a car service for one these days.

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • 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
  • Overacheivers

    There are consequences to playing baseball for days on end, well into the wee hours, in stormy weather and chaotic circumstances. Arkansas learned that in the hardest of ways.
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • Baum bound

    Arkansas bookended its long stay in Hoover, Ala., with two agonizing, close losses. But the Hogs drew plenty of national attention for what they did in three successive wins between those defeats, and by extension, the SEC runner-up is not only hosting a regional again this weekend, but getting some well-merited adulation for sustaining this improbable rebound campaign.
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

June

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  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Summer hopes

    • Maybe they'll hit 7 wins again and spend the holidays in Shreveport! HUZZA!

    • on June 22, 2017
 

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