Posts Tagged ‘Razorbacks’

Huge Weekend for Hog Fans

 

Sure, Arkansas’ chances of winning either an SEC or national title are now nothing more than a fading memory. And heck, the Razorbacks aren’t even playing a game in front of their fans on Saturday. Still, this weekend should be of the absolute, utmost importance to Hog fans.

Here’s why

The Razorbacks are still very much in play for their first-ever BCS bowl appearance. That may be hard to believe for some, but it is an absolute fact. Here is the simple scenario that would result in the Hogs recieving their first BCS bid in the infamous system’s 13-year reign over the college football landscape:

  1. Alabama loses this Saturday night in Baton Rouge
  2. Arkansas beats #19 South Carolina and #20 Mississippi State on the road, and #10 LSU in Little Rock over the next 4 weeks*
  3. Auburn beats Alabama the day after Thanksgiving
  4. Auburn beats South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game

Arkansas must win the battle for "The Golden Boot"

It’s honestly that simple, and relatively foreseeable. The above scenario results in Arkansas ending the season with a 10-2 record, good for 2nd place in the SEC West (and, really, the 2nd best record in the whole conference). With Auburn’s then-certain inclusion in the BCS National Championship game, the BCS will, without a doubt, extend an at-large bid to another SEC team. Here’s the group they will be looking at:

  • *Arkansas 10-2 (6-2)
  • *LSU 10-2 (6-2)
  • *Alabama 9-3 (5-3)
  • *South Carolina 9-4 (5-3)

South Carolina, like so many SEC Championship Game losers of the past would be overlooked, and given that Arkansas would have beaten LSU head-to-head in the last game of the season, Arkansas would get the nod over the Tigers. It should also not be overlooked that the BCS brain-trust is smart, and knows that the rabid Razorback fan base would show up in droves for the Hogs’ first ever BCS appearance – especially if they were to get placed in the Sugar Bowl.

So there you have it. While there are several moving parts to this scenario, would any of them, individually, really even cause you to raise both eyebrows? Not me. The two biggest hurdles need to be cleared this weekend, and if they are, this scenario almost begins to look more likely than not.

So, as always, Woo Pig Sooiieee!

And for just a single, painful but necessary weekend…Geaux Tigers!

The Breakdown: Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt

When Arkansas Runs

The Razorbacks still only have the 89th rushing offense in the nation, but based on their improvement in that area over the last three games, that ranking is really not representative of the way Kniles Davis and company are running the ball today. Over the last two weeks, the Hogs have averaged 7.3 yards per carry against the then 23rd ranked Mississippi run defense, 4.9 yards against the then #15 run defense of Auburn. This weekend, facing Vanderbilt’s 92nd ranked rushing defense should mean that the surging Razorback running game should continue its recent breakout. Look for Davis to go over 100 yards for the second straight week in this one.
EDGE: Arkansas

When Arkansas Throws

This is where the Hogs always cash in, and this week will be no different. Arkansas still ranks 2nd nationally, throwing for 352 yards per game this season, and the Commodores have been no more than average against opposing passers, allowing a 58th best 211 yards passing per game so far. Over the past two weeks Vandy has faced Georgia’s #31 passing offense and Georgia’s #55 aerial attack. In those games, the Commodores have allowed nearly 100 yards more than their opponents season average, 355 yards and 315 yards, respectively. The Razorbacks, even with Childs and Adams potentially sidelined with injury, should have no problem putting up their average at home against Vanderbilt.
EDGE: Arkansas

When Vanderbilt Runs

The Commodores running game ranks a decent 68th nationally, totaling 146 yards per game on the ground so far this season. To date, the Razorbacks have allowed 170 yards rushing per game to their opponents, good for 86th nationally. However, the Hogs just faced Ole Miss’ #20 rushing attack and held it to about 30 yards less than its average rushing yards per game, and a half yard less than its normal average yards per carry. Starting DT Dequinta Jones will likely be suspended for the game, but the Razorbacks should still at least be able to neutralize the strength of the Vandy offense here.
EDGE: Draw

When Vanderbilt Throws

Vanderbilt’s passing offense is putrid, ranking 105th nationally, out of 120 teams. There’s no reason at all to doubt that the #26 Arkansas pass defense will be able to completely hold the Commodores in check through the air. Vandy averages just 160 yards passing per game, and I would be surprised if Arkansas allows even 150.
EDGE: Arkansas

Intangibles

Well, most important of all is the home field advantage that the Razorbacks will own in this game. Additionally, Vandy has lost three of four by at least 14 (but by 43 to a Georgia team the Hogs beat), with the lone win coming against an Eastern Michigan team that is winless since he beginning of last season. The Hogs may be without their two best receivers and one of their best defensive linemen, but depth at those positions should allow the Hogs to -for the most part – conduct their business as usual.
EDGE: Arkansas

Razorbacks

Prediction

Vanderbilt really doesn’t have a leg to stand on in this game. The Hogs are the better team on offense and defense, and the game is in Fayetteville. The Commodores may be able to find a reasonable amount of success on offense running the ball, but their futile passing attack should make them far too one dimensional to really threaten the Hogs. Even without Childs, Adams, and Jones the Hogs will win comfortably, but if the receivers are able to play feel free to add an additional 10 points for the Hogs.
Arkansas 35 – 17

– Warzecha –

The Breakdown: Arkansas vs Ole Miss – October 23rd

Houston Nutt & Bobby Petrino

When Arkansas Runs

The running game has been considered the weak half of the Arkansas offense all season, but it needs to be noted that all but one team (Louisiana-Monroe) on the Hogs’ schedule thus far is ranked as a Top 20 rushing defense nationally. That kind of opposition makes it difficult to employ a dominant ground attack, but in the last two weeks, against the #2 and #15 rush defenses, the Hogs have averaged 3.7 and 4.9 yards per carry, respectively. Not bad at all given the competition.
The Rebels boast the 23rd ranked rush defense in the country and had a surprising amount of success against Alabama’s 37th ranked running attack last week, holding the combination of Ingram and Richardson to a paltry 2.9 yards per carry on 34 attempts. Remember though, that Ole Miss had an extra week to prepare for Alabama’s visit to Oxford – a luxury they won’t be afforded against the Razorbacks. If the Hogs can run the ball on Saturday for an average anywhere in between what they produced against better defenses in the past two weeks, that should be plenty good enough to keep the Rebels from selling out to defend the pass.
EDGE: Draw

When Arkansas Passes

Regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Hogs – and it looks like it will be Ryan Mallett (http://blogs.nwaonline.com/slophouse/2010/10/20/mallett-returns-to-practice/) – the passing game is…well, its basically unstoppable. Arkansas is the #2 passing team in the entire nation, behind only Hawaii, who throws the ball like 350 times a game. The Razorbacks have faced pass defenses ranked in the top 25% nationally (Alabama & Georgia) and defenses ranked in the bottom 25% (Texas A&M & Auburn). The results have all been pretty much the same. The only thing that stops Arkansas’ passing game is itself, and probably Tebow, somehow.
Ole Miss doesn’t even pretend to be a competent pass defense. Ranked 96th in the country, the Rebels have faced some decent passing attacks, but nothing nearly like Arkansas, and nobody ranked in the Top 25 for that matter. A healthy Arkansas QB, whoever it is, should have plenty of success getting the ball to every one of Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, D.J. Williams, and Cobi Hamilton on Saturday.
EDGE: Arkansas

Ryan Mallett & Tyler Wilson

When Ole Miss Runs

As stated above Arkansas is statistically worse than 81 other teams when it comes to stopping the run – much worse (and rightfully so) than they were before the embarrassment that was Cam Newton and Auburn’s #6 rushing offense last week. While the Rebels won’t be trotting out anyone with half the skills of Newton on Saturday, after what we saw last week, the Razorback run defense is far from worthy of trust at the moment.
EDGE: Ole Miss

When Ole Miss Passes

Arkansas is, statistically, the best pass defense Ole Miss will have seen this season, ranked #12 in the country. And much as it seems like Arkansas hasn’t been that dominant, it’s not like they’ve just been facing below average offenses. In fact, four of Arkansas’ five opponents have passing attacks ranked in the Top half of teams nationally, with Texas A&M’s #10 ranked unit being the best of the bunch. I think this indicates that the Razorbacks’ ranking here is pretty legitimate.
EDGE: Arkansas

Intangibles

Well, regardless of records, the coaches, players, and most importantly the fans involved in this game want to win in the worst way. No need to further explain the history there, except to say that it probably runs both ways pretty equally. Luckily for Hog fans, the game is in Fayetteville, so they are the ones who will get to try to make a difference on gameday.
I’m not sure it’s completely fair to say, given such a small sample size, but if anyone has anyone’s number here, Nutt has Petrino’s after winning the head to head match-up in each of the two years since both coaches took their current posts in 2008. But as the 3rd Edition of WIlly Robinson vs. Gus Mahlzan showed last week, winning the first two doesn’t always mean much.

You also have to wonder how this Razorback team will respond to, not only a tough, seemingly unfair loss, but also the reality that the major goals it had set out to achieve this season are now basically pipe dreams.
Intangibles: Draw

Prediction

This stacks up to be a game that will be closer than most Razorback fans likely expected it to be just a couple weeks ago. However, pound for pound Arkansas is the better, more talented football team and they are playing at home. When Ole Miss has the ball, any advantage it has when running the ball will be met with equal force from Arkansas’ advantage when Jeremiah Masoli puts the ball in the air. The biggest mismatch by far – as usual – will come when Arkansas drops back to hook up with any of its numerous down-field threats. The Hogs should score plenty. The Rebels won’t score as many.
Prediction: Arkansas 34 – 24

– Warzecha –

Arkansas at Auburn Blown Call October 16th

Here is video of the blown call from the 2nd quarter of the Arkansas vs Auburn game. The Auburn player is given a touchdown even though a fumble was called on the field. Take a look for yourself and decide if he got in the end zone.

[update: Looks like the SEC didn’t want people seeing the replay of the blown call. They’re party poopers and took the video down. Sorry, there isn’t anything we can do about it. If you know of other places people can find the video, please leave a comment to the link.]

Sports Articles You Will Enjoy

Here are a few articles that you’d probably enjoy reading in between watching games this weekend.

The Breakdown: Arkansas at Auburn October 16th

When Auburn Runs

Cam Newton and Auburn are the #1 rushing offense in the SEC and rank 8th nationally with a 5.86 yards per carry average (ypc). And while much is made of Newton’s efficiency as a passer, this is where Auburn’s offense earns it’s pay, rushing for 276 yards and 2.5 TDs each game. In the Tigers’ single game against a ranked SEC team this season, they rushed for 335 yards and three TDs against South Carolina. FYI – those are the only TDs the Gamecocks defense has allowed on the ground all season. These guys can flat out run the ball.

Arkansas is respectably ranked as the 43rd rush defense nationally, allowing 3.47 ypc and five rushing TDs in five games this season. In comparison, the South Carolina defense that Auburn shredded is ranked 23rd and allows a similar 3.31 ypc. The last time Arkansas faced a top-notch SEC rushing attack, Alabama (29th in rushing nationally), the Hog defense basically held the Tide to its 5.56 average ypc. Those who watched can tell you that they did a decent job keeping the Bama runners in front of them for most of the day, but were really hurt by allowing a handful of long runs.
Edge: Auburn

When Auburn Passes

While Auburn’s passing game is constantly regarded as very efficient thanks to the high passer rating of Cam Newton, it’s far from explosive and falls in the middle of the pack nationally, ranked 69th. Certainly this is at least partially a by-product of Auburn choosing to rely on its ground game, but when Penn State’s laughable offense is ranked ahead of you in anything, that thing is not what I would consider very special. Predictably though, the Auburn pass attack has been much better at home than on the road where Newton has averaged more interceptions than TDs this season. At home Newton has a 5-1 TD to INT ratio and a 68% completion rate. Against South Carolina, Newton was basically picture-perfect on 21 passing attempts, completing 16 for 158 yards, two TDs and no INTs. It’s definitely worth noting though, that South Carolina is surprisingly ranked 103 in passing defense. Out of 120 teams, it’s safe to say that is a terrible pass defense.

Arkansas has been very good against the pass this season. The Hogs rank 19th nationally and 3rd in the SEC, allowing a mere 6.6 yards per pass attempt, 167 yards total per game and only four TDs to go along with five INTs. Four of the Razorbacks’ five opponents to date rank in the Top 50 nationally in passing offense, well above Auburn. Auburn has only faced one Top 40 pass defense this season – Kentucky. The Wildcats held Newton without a passing TD and picked him off once. This is the strength of the Arkansas defense to this point in the season (crazy, huh?) and the lesser of two strengths for the Auburn offense.
Edge: Arkansas

When Arkansas Runs

The much maligned Arkansas running game ranks only 96th nationally and has been good for 108 yards per game, but a surprisingly decent 3.94 ypc. Like Auburn’s passing offense, this ranking is likely skewed a bit by Arkansas’ reasonable reliance on Ryan Mallet and the passing game. Last week, against what is the 7th best rushing defense in the nation in Texas A&M (2.57 ypc), the Hogs ran for 132 yards and 3.7 yards per carry. Given the stiffness of the competition, that is actually a pretty encouraging development coming out of the bye week. Specifically, Knile Davis, who showed some flashes before the bye against Alabama, cruised to 82 yards on only 10 carries against the Aggies. If he isn’t given the bulk of the carries over Broderick Green at this point, he never will.

Auburn is very good against the run, ranking 14th nationally and giving up a paltry 2.8 ypc and 96 yards per game. Sure, they’ve only faced one Top 25 rushing offense (Mississippi St.), however it is fair to point out that Arkansas State (#72) and Louisiana-Monroe (#108), who are ranked in the same vicinity as Arkansas, were held to 1.2 yards per carry by Auburn. But let’s be serious, Arkansas’ personnel will match up much better with Auburn’s front seven than those teams could have. Also, last week the Hogs ran for a whole yard per carry better than what Texas A&M – a more highly ranked run defense – has allowed on the season.
Edge: Auburn

When Arkansas Passes

This is where things begin to look very good for the Razorbacks, who average 354 yards through the air and nearly three passing TDs per game – good for 3rd nationally in passing offense. The Hogs also average an elite 9.7 yards per pass attempt. That is per pass ATTEMPT, not completion. And while the Hogs have yet to face a truly elite pass defense in 2010, when you are one of the best in the nation at something offensively, its pretty common for the defenses you face to subsequently rank poorly in defending whatever that something is.

Auburn’s pass defense is completely terrible. They rank in the bottom quartile of the county at 91, and allow a 65% completion rate to opposing signal-callers. Arkansas’ last three opponents are ranked well ahead of Auburn in this category. South Carolina, despite losing at Auburn, threw for more than two yards above their 9.0 average yards per pass attempt and tossed 1/3 of their passing TDs this season (3) against the Tigers defense. Star wideout Alshon Jeffery had by far a season high 192 yards receiving and two TDs.
Edge: Arkansas (like, by a lot)

Intangibles

Bobby Petrino is 2-0 against Auburn since becoming the Head Coach of the Razorbacks and the Hogs have won three of the last four in the series. Auburn’s only win in that time was a 9-7 thriller at home in 2007 against a Casey Dick led Hogs team. Hogs defensive coordinator Willy Robinson is also 2-0 against Gus Malzahn as an offensive coordinator, holding Gus’ offenses to 23 points in both wins – one while Gus was with Tulsa in 2008, and one last season, Gus’ first as Auburn’s offensive coordinator. Arkansas also had the pleasure of playing Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson last week, who plays the game very similarly to Cam Newton. While Newton is no doubt the better player of the two, this should at least be a small bonus in terms of preparation.

Prediction

This will be a great game. Both teams are pretty evenly matched and surely know what’s at stake. However, the major edge Arkansas has while passing, the recent signs of life from the Razorback run game, and the recent history in this series will provide just enough to overcome Auburn’s home-field advantage. Prediction: Arkansas 31 – 27.

– Warzecha –

College Football Lead Pipe Locks for October 16th

Ohio State (-4) at Wisconsin

ESPN and the rest of the sports media is eager to declare this game as a likely stumbling point for the Buckeyes. Really? Sure, maybe Ohio State has had some tough games in Camp Randall Stadium but so have most big ten teams. More important in my mind is that Ohio State is 8-0 in its last eight road games against ranked teams and is 19-1 in its last 20 Big Ten road games. Wisconsin is nothing all that special and their style of offense plays right into the strength of a stout, talented Buckeye defense. I expect Pryor to provide his first real Heisman-worthy performance of 2010 in a Buckeye win. Prediction: Ohio State 30 – 20.

Florida (-7) vs. Mississippi State

Florida is embarrassed. They’re angry. And they’re way more talented than the Bulldogs. Mississippi State is offensively inept. Look for Florida’s offense and defense to come out swinging Saturday night in the Swamp. Prediction: Florida 27 – 16.

Utah at Wyoming (over 53)

Utah averages more than 49 points per game. All but one of their games this season have gone over the total – by a lot. In their last three games they’ve scored 56 (@ New Mexico), 56 (San Jose St.) and 68 (@ Iowa St.). Utah likely covers this spread in a shutout, but I expect Wyoming to put a few points on the board as well. Prediction: Utah 52 – 13.

Arkansas (+4) at Auburn

This match-up promises to be one of the best – and most important – in the nation this week. Both teams are coming off wins against solid teams that were probably closer than they should have been. Both teams are fighting to take advantage of Alabama’s suddenly imperfect record. Both teams have potentially explosive offenses. But the weakest unit on the field on Saturday will be Auburn’s defense. That will be the difference in a huge road win for the Razorbacks. Prediction: Arkansas 31 – 27.

LOCK OF THE WEEK!!!!

Utah (-20) at Wyoming

Wyoming has been a dog by more than 20 points three times this season. They covered a 27.5 point spread against a seriously overrated Texas team in week one, and failed to cover 23 and 35 point spreads to Boise State and TCU, respectively. The Cowboys lost those last two games by a collective score of 96-6. Utah is a lot closer to its BCS-busting brethren than it is to Texas. In fact, with the 3rd best scoring offense in college football, Utah has been even more explosive than both the Broncos and Horned Frogs. This will be a major blowout. Prediction: Utah 52 – 13.

Warzecha Season Record: 7-7 (beginning in week 3)