Arkansas Strength of Schedule: The SEC’s toughest schedule

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SDS takes a trip around the SEC and ranks the schedule strength of all 14 SEC teams. We’ll work our way down to the toughest schedule in the SEC. Finishing up the rankings is Arkansas.

Previous Schedule Rankings:

SDS has counted down from the weakest schedules to the toughest, and we’ve finally reached the most unforgiving schedule in the SEC.

Welcome to Fayetteville, Bret Bielema. Along with the Hog nation, the SEC’s toughest schedule welcomes you and your staff to Arkansas. Bielema knows this isn’t the Big Ten, and he’ll get his feet wet immediately in SEC play. But seeing how he dishes it out on Twitter, I’d say he welcomes the uphill challenge.

In 2013, Arkansas’ strength of schedule ranks No. 1 in the SEC.

2013 Arkansas Razorbacks Schedule

  • Aug. 31 – Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Sept. 7 – Samford
  • Sept. 14 – Southern Miss
  • Sept. 21 – at Rutgers
  • Sept. 28 – Texas A&M
  • Oct. 5 – at Florida
  • Oct. 12 – South Carolina
  • Oct. 19 – at Alabama
  • Nov. 2 – Auburn
  • Nov. 9 – at Ole Miss
  • Nov. 23 – Mississippi State
  • Nov. 29 – at LSU

By The Numbers

  • 7 Home Games
  • 5 Road Games
  • 3 Cupcakes
  • 5 Preseason top 25 projected opponents (Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and LSU)

Strength of Schedule Rank

  • SEC West: 1st
  • SEC: 1st

Notes

  • Cross-divisional opponents: Florida and South Carolina
  • Opponents winning percentage in 2012: 99-54 (64.7%)
  • Bye weeks: Before Auburn and Mississippi State

The three toughest schedules in the SEC are Kentucky, LSU and Arkansas, and you could make a case for each of them having the toughest. Kentucky fans view their schedule the toughest, as do LSU fans.

But – to me – Arkansas has the nastiest schedule of anyone in the SEC.

All four non-conference games fall in first four weeks. Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford and Southern Miss will whet the appetite, while a road trip to Rutgers will be the first real test in week four. The Scarlet Knights took it to the Hogs in Fayetteville last season, and they return their top passer and receiver and should be 3-0 by the time Arkansas heads to New Jersey.

Immediately after Rutgers is where things get ferocious, with the nastiest four-game stretch of any SEC team all year.

Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama come calling in four consecutive weeks, and that includes road trips to Florida and Alabama, two of the toughest places to play in the SEC. Mind you, Arkansas won’t even have a bye week to regroup before the brutal conference slate starts.

Games against Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State may give the fans a chance for a breather before a punishing, physical battle against LSU to close out the season, but both the Rebels and Tigers will improve in ’13.

Arkansas is the only team in the SEC to play five of the big six conference teams. Plenty of other teams play four, but none play five like the Hogs. Add in a legit non-conference game against Rutgers, and it becomes the SEC’s toughest schedule in 2013.

Oddly enough, Ole Miss entered last season with the toughest schedule on paper, and the Rebs ended up winning seven. So, quick turnarounds are possible, and Bielema is the type of coach who could make an instant impact. But I’m not sure the roster is good enough accomplish that type of turnaround in year one.

How will Bret Bielema’s first year turn out with the SEC’s toughest strength of schedule in 2013?

Photo Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • how quickly a 4-0 start will turn into a 5-7 year… good luck pigs

    • I dont see the Hogs losing to Auburn (beat them easily last year with a horrific team) or Ole Miss (had them beat before giving it away, and losing by just 3) so if they start 4-0 like you say, I see them bowling somewhere next year. GL to your puppies.