FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas will open the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, when Portland State comes to Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
As has been noted about a million times in the Arkansas media since the conclusion of the 2018 season the Razorbacks are coming off a 2-10 season. While that season is in the rear view mirror the question now is how will the Hogs do in 2019?
A couple of things before the predictions for this fall. I probably have less knowledge and feel for this season than anytime since moving to Fayetteville in 1997.
And no this isn’t a gripe about access. I understand the days of open practices and the such are long gone and honestly that is fine with me. What it is just an honest statement about the feel for the team. Usually the media has got to see at least one of the scrimmages, but this year none. But phones and social media have caused the coaches to rightfully be paranoid about who watches practices and scrimmages.
There’s a reporter or two who wears their arms out patting themselves on the back for their inside sources and knowledge of what is going on. We all have sources who leak stuff from practice and scrimmages. But one has to remember when getting information from someone else no matter who they are they are gonna tell you what they want you to know. It’s not the same as seeing it for yourself and forming your own opinion. That theory applies to life not just football.
With that said, again, I have less feel about this team than any in recent memory, but I have been impressed with the body language and things going on in the spring and fall. It seems like the ones without the buy-in factor for Chad Morris and his staff are gone.
I feel safe in saying this football team is going to be much better than last year. Much better doesn’t mean 8-9-10 wins, that’s not what I am saying.
One has to remember Arkansas was two plays away from being 2-10 in 2017 when they finished 4-8. Connor Limpert kicked a field goal on the last play of the game against Ole Miss and T.J. Hammonds saved the day with a long touchdown late against Coastal Carolina to avoid another The Citadel-type upset.
So much improved to this reporter is saying the Hogs will win between 5-7 games. They have upgraded the talent at some positions and the coaching staff has all had a year together in the SEC except for Kenny Ingram who replaced John Scott Jr. But Ingram came over from Auburn so he’s very familiar with the SEC.
Recent history says the second year is one for marked improvement. Bobby Petrino rebounded from a 5-7 season in 2008 to go 8-5 the following year and win a bowl game. Bret Bielema saw his first Arkansas team go 3-9 in 2013 only to finish 7-6 and win a bowl game in 2014.
I see a similar improvement for Morris and the Hogs this fall. So with that said here goes my revised predictions for the season.
Portland State, Aug. 31, Fayetteville — Hogs win easily. (1-0)
At Ole Miss, Sept. 7, Oxford — Arkansas escapes with a victory. (2-0)
Colorado State, Sept. 14, Fayetteville — The Razorbacks get some revenge. (3-0)
San Jose State, Sept. 21, Fayetteville — Hogs continue winning ways. (4-0)
Texas A&M, Sept. 28, Arlington — A&M ends the Arkansas winning streak. (4-1)
At Kentucky, Oct. 12, Lexington — It is very tempting to pick Arkansas here, but I don’t think they beat both Ole Miss and Kentucky on road. (4-2)
Auburn, Oct. 19, Fayetteville — Gus Malzahn brings the Tigers to town. (4-3)
Alabama, Oct. 26, Tuscaloosa — Tough trip for Razorbacks. Tide rolls again. (4-4)
Mississippi State, Nov. 2, Fayetteville — The Bulldogs and Hogs are almost always close. Razorbacks almost win this one. (4-5)
Western Kentucky, Nov. 9, Fayetteville — Arkansas takes a much appreciated break from the SEC for a week. (5-5)
LSU, Nov. 23, Baton Rouge — Tough place to win and Hogs fall in this one. (5-6)
Missouri, Nov. 29, Little Rock — The Rock is rocking and no they aren’t chanting nice things about Kelly Bryant like happened last time he was in Arkansas. Hogs win this one and go bowling. (6-6)
Of the picks, I do feel the Hogs will win the four non-conference games. And that means they have to win two in SEC to go bowling. I know my picks above, but I do feel like the Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Missouri games could go either way. The Hogs need two of them to get to six wins assuming they take care of business outside the SEC.