Using ESPN’s FPI (Football Power Index) as a guide, Arkansas has a 74 percent chance to beat Northern Illinois on Saturday.


All the talk has been heavily centered around the Arkansas running game. After a 438-yard performance on the road against Texas Tech, it’s not hard to believe. However, the key for Arkansas against Northern Illinois will be quarterback Brandon Allen.

The Hogs’ signal-caller has had a modest start to the season, but has been relatively unneeded, thanks to such a dominating start to the season by the offensive line and running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Head coach Bret Bielema believes Allen and the passing game is still a strong asset for the Razorbacks, despite not relying too much on Allen’s arm to start the season.

“I’ve been referring to it as the best kept secret in Fayetteville,” Bielema said earlier this week, referring to the Arkansas passing attack. ”

Whether it’s a secret or not, it appears this week’s game against Northern Illinois will be the week for Allen to get his work in. The Huskies rank 89th nationally in pass defense, allowing 259 passing yards per game. More importantly, if the Hogs are able to show they can pass the ball effectively, it should help them moving forward. With Texas A&M next week, convincing the Aggies defense that they need to respect both the run and pass game from Arkansas would help open things up even more for the vaunted Razorback running attack.

Arkansas and Northern Illinois kick off tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU.