The football season has yet to kick off, but it’s quite obvious that the Arkansas Razorbacks are looking forward to their September 15th meeting with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Razorbacks have two games prior to the meeting with the Tide as they open against Jacksonville State and follow that up with a game against Louisiana-Monroe. The players and coaches will say the right things and comment on how they are not looking ahead, but the success of this season will depend on how the Hogs do against LSU and Alabama.
As expected, the media picked the Razorbacks to finish third behind, LSU and Alabama, of course.
The college football betting community has also snubbed their nose at Arkansas. Alabama and LSU have better odds to win the 2013 BCS Championship and the SEC West. In fact the line for the game between Arkansas and Alabama has been released by several sportsbooks and the Crimson Tide is a 6.5 point favorite.
There are a select few that believe the Razorbacks can win the SEC West this year, but if they lose to Alabama, it would be tough to recover.
The players and the coaches know the real season starts against Alabama. Head coach John L. Smith admitted as much in an interview with ESPN’s Chris Fowler. (http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=8195855)
During the SEC Media days quarterback Tyler Wilson commented on the “other” two teams in the SEC West, “Well, you’ve got to beat them,” Wilson said. “That’s where you start. It’s good for us this year. We’ve got them both at our place.”
Last year a trip to then No. 3 ranked Alabama ended in miserable defeat, when the Hogs were trounced by a score of 38-14. Alabama amassed nearly 400 yards in the game behind a strong rushing attack and the loss hurt the Razorbacks. The Razorbacks rebounded and ended up with an outstanding 11 win season, but if they beat Alabama, the season could have taken a different turn.
This year has to be different for Arkansas. Wilson will be the first great passing quarterback that the Crimson Tide defense will face. The Tide secondary will have to replace safety Mark Barron and cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie. Alabama can recruit some of the best players in the country to fill the shoes in the secondary, but it will still be early in the season and this could be an area the Hogs can exploit.
The Razorbacks have improved on defense and are loaded on offense. If everything falls into place it is very feasible that the Razorbacks could play for a BCS Championship, but it all starts with the game against Alabama.