The Hogs had 3 head coaches within a 12 month time span thanks to some
irresponsible behavior; otherwise, they may have led the upset throughout the SEC-West in 2012. In 2012, the Razorbacks won only 2 SEC games vs. Auburn and Kentucky. That isn’t anything to write home to the pig farmers about since both schools combined didn’t have more wins than even a 4-8 Arkansas team. Petrino’s out. Smith in. Smith out. Bielema is in after a 68-24 record in the B1G at Wisconsin and 0-3 in the Rose Bowl. That hasn’t stopped Bielema from talking big taking jabs at Saban this summer. Bielema should have checked his roster and schedule before doing so. Heading into the 2013 season, he
has no quarterback with any experience on the roster but does have
veteran depth along the offensive and defensive lines. Fortunately,
for Bielema and the Hogs, they do have several games to get warmed up
into the new offensive and defensive schemes Bielema and his staff
will be introducing before facing one of the tougher schedules in the
SEC. Can Woo-Pig-Sooie back up Bielema’s offseason big talk?
The Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette ended their season with a 9-4
and nearly pulled out a victory vs. THE FLORIDA GATORS had it not been
for a key special teams play to seal a Gator victory (that should
never have been that close to begin with). Mark Hudspeth is 18-8 as
head coach since 2011. Facing the Razorbacks to open the season may
normally have been a daunting situation for most teams, but this
Arkansas team is far from the normal situation. The Cajuns averaged
35.5 points per game and allowed 28.1 points per game in 2012.
Razorbacks better not think they can sleepwalk through this opener
because this will be close. Hogs by 3.
Now is a good time to really get your teams feet wet into the new
schemes and build your depth, but they shouldn’t have any problem
running up and down the field in the process. Arky by 20.
9/14 Southern Miss
Southern Miss has been thrown for a bit of a loop lately. They lose a
successful coach in Larry Fedora to North Carolina. He was replaced
by South Carolina Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson who went 0-12 in his first season. He was let go and headed to Auburn as their
Defensive Coordinator and replaced by Ted Monken, Offensive
Coordinator of the high powered offense at Oklahoma State. In 2012,
the Eagles managed 19.7 points per game and allowed 37.8 and lost by
an average margin of 18 points. While some of those losses came from
Nebraska, Louisville, and Boise State, the remaining losses were all
from a C-USA schedule which still averaged 17 points per game. Not
good and Todd Monken may have a bit of rebuilding to do and I am not
sure he will have enough time in week 3 to restore the Eagles
confidence, but the Hogs are also in a bit of a rebuilding mode
themselves. Hogs should win this game by 14.
The Scarlet Knights have had to endure a little bit of drama lately
and you have to hope it hasn’t spilled over and infected the football
program that went 9-4 in 2012 with wins over South Florida, Arkansas,
UCONN, Syracuse, Temple, and Cincinnati. Fairly respectable wins for
Kyle Flood in his first year. The Knights took a trip to Fayetteville
and fed on some roasted pig last year, but that was a pig that was
already down on its luck. This time the Boss Hogs head north to face
the spear of the Knights again and Rutgers will probably keep things
close for a while, but Bielema knows how to get the best out of his
players and I think this game will start to show he is turning things
around. Pigs by 17.
9/28 Texas A&M
By now the Hogs are may be starting to feel better about themselves.
That will probably be short lived as Woo-Pig-Sooie may switch to
Woe-Is-Me with an onslaught of SEC power houses to face starting with
the Texas A&M Aggies. Welcome to the SEC Bret Bielema. Stock those
cabinets full of pain killers… you’ll need em. Fortunately for the
Hogs, at least they will be back home hoping for a bit of an advantage
but they do have to face the 4th best offense in the entire country
with a Heisman Trophy winning QB who skewered the Razorbacks 58-10.
How hungry will the Hogs be to return to their role of playing the
upset card in the SEC-West? The Aggies are likely coming into this
game 3-1 with a loss vs. defending National Champion Alabama. They
will want to get back on track in the SEC with a win over the
Razorbacks, but I don’t think they will make it easy for them. Aggies
10/5 @THE FLORIDA GATORS
In 2012, THE FLORIDA GATORS averaged 146.3 passing yards per game ranking them as a bottom feeder nationally. QB Jeff Driskel and
Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease both return in 2013 and add Joker
Phillips as Wide Receivers coach. You have to believe that this combination with what should be an improved Offensive Line and the WR position recruited with emphasis that the Gator passing game should see some significant improvement. Unfortunately for the Hogs though, they still have to face what is likely to be one of the best defenses in the entire country who only allowed an average of 14.5 points per
game in 2012. Gators will eat well this day with an Arkansas team still struggling to figure things out with Bielema’s first SEC road game in The Swamp. Go Gators by 17.
10/12 South Carolina
Which is better for tailgating… chicken or sausage? In 2012, a downtrodden Razorback team headed to Columbia to face their cross-divisional foe and eventual Top 10 ranked Gamecock team and lost 38-20. As bad as the Hogs were last year, this is a bit of a head scratcher considering a Gamecock defense that was the 13th best in the country vs. a Razorback offense ranked 91st. This season, the
chickens head west young man (or woman whichever the case may be) to
Fayetteville hoping to get back on track and you have to believe that at some point they will get that signature win under the new Boss Hog. I think this may be just the week that happens. A whole lotta Woo-Pig-Sooing going on after a very close win by 3.
After Bielema was hired, he started comparing his B1G record to
Saban’s when he was the head coach at Michigan State. You know, the
same Nick Saban who coached the Crimson Tide to 3 of the last four
National Champions and has owned the Razorbacks every year since 2008
by an average margin of victory of 22.75 points per game NOT including
the 52-0 beat down in 2012. It may not be fair to have to play Top 10 teams like the Aggies, then THE FLORIDA GATORS, the Gamecocks and then
the Crimson Tide back to back to back, but this is the SEC where you are always battle tested. Bielema may be regretting his decision to leave Wisconsin because Saban is sick of hearing his name come up and ready to send a message stating so. Tide likely remains undefeated and rolls by 17.
10/26 OPEN DATE
Now that the Hogs have been properly tenderized and roasted and had a
week off to heal, they remain at home to welcome Malzahn’s return to
Fayetteville, this time as head coach of the Auburn Tigers. Both teams would probably wish they could just forget that 2012 even happened. For all intents and purposes, looking back at this match up in 2012 is pretty pointless and both programs will be using 2013 to rebound. Malzahn probably has the better tools to run his offense
assuming he can find a starting QB. By this point in the season the
WarKitties will have faced Washington State, Arkansas State, Mississippi State, @LSU, Ole Miss, Western Carolina, @Texas A&M and Florida Intl before facing divisional foe Arkansas. With only a hand full of games left on the schedule, both teams will likely be looking to use this game as a trigger point to get closer to a bowl berth and
prevent being a divisional bottom feeder. Giving the edge to the
Razorbacks at home with the week off before to rest and prepare. Hogs
and become bowl eligible with a win by 3.
11/9 @Ole Miss
While the Hogs have been spending the 2013 season rebuilding, the
RebelBlackBearWhateverTheyAreNows have been spending this season
building upon the semi-successful 7-6 2012 season in Hugh Freeze first
year. That was followed up by an impressive recruiting haul in February. Ole Miss finished 2012 with a 3-5 record in SEC play and averaged 31.5 points per game on offense and allowed an average of 27.6 points per game defensively. The fighting Freeze’s get a week off before welcoming the pigs to town. I have a feeling this may be a bit of a fun game to watch but the Rebs will have plenty of bacon for the hangover breakfast the next morning. RebelWhateverTheyAre’s
11/16 OPEN DATE
11/23 Mississippi State
It’s the annual Maroon Bowl and the second straight team from
Mississippi the Pigs have to face after a week off to get over a heartbreaking loss at Ole Miss. This time, Bielema welcomes Dan Mullen to Fayetteville. Like James Franklin at Vanderbilt, Dan Mullen took full advantage of SEC teams who were beyond down on their luck. Like Vanderbilt, Miss State won’t have the same luxury in 2013 with a
team who by this point has started to figure things out and re-learn what it takes to win. With the Razorbacks already bowl eligible, Arkansas will be looking to secure a better bowl game this week before having to face another brand of Tigers next on their schedule. The Hogs stay on the right track with a 7 point win.
Just when Arkansas was riding high and the Razorbacks starting to feel
good about themselves again, they head on the road to Baton Rouge to
face the Cajun variety of Tigers with new offensive coordinator Cam
Cameron at the helm. By this point in the season, LSU will have faced
TCU, UAB, Kent State, Auburn, @Jawjuh, @Miss State, THE FLORIDA
GATORS, @Ole Miss, Furman, @Alabama, Texas A&M and recovering from Turkey Day food coma before welcoming the Hogs to town to stockpile their leftovers in the Bayou and likely hoping for a bid at continuing
the SEC reign as National Champions. LSU may have lost a lot of talent to the NFL, but they are one of the deepest teams in the entire country and will be a bit more than the Hogs are ready to handle. LSUwill eat very well this weekend. Tigers by 13.
Going from a 4-8 in 2012 to 7-5 in 2013 is a nice turn around for Bielema in his first year as Head Hog and should be just a start to their rebuilding process. Bielema has to show he can win some big games… and win his bowl game if he wants to prove he can back up the
big talk and compete with the likes of Saban. This turn around could just assist with recruiting the kinds of players Bielema likes (and frankly needs) to continue building this success.