Arkansas football: When will the Hogs become bowl-eligible?
One win away. Just 1 more victory and the Razorbacks are bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.
On the surface that may not seem like a tremendously long bowl drought. But longtime Arkansas fans will tell you different. They probably already know that this stretch between bowls, from 2016-present is the longest the Hogs have gone without postseason play since 1959.
That’s right, 1959 was the year the Razorbacks finally made it back to a bowl game following their 1954 Cotton Bowl appearance. It was Year 2 under head coach Frank Broyles. And although he didn’t make quite the same impact a rock star from down the road in Memphis, by way of the Mississippi Delta, was stirring up, Broyles would become a legend in his own field.
Now I’m certainly not comparing current second-year head coach Sam Pittman to Broyles, who went on to become the longest-tenured head coach in program history. Broyles’ 19 years at the helm put Arkansas football on the map and produced the Hogs’ only national championship in 1964. His 144 career victories at Arkansas may never be topped. No one has even come close.
Point is, the Razorbacks are used to being relevant in college football. They aren’t used to being shut out of the bowls for this long. But it seems like this, the 5th season since the 2016 Belk Bowl appearance, will be the end of the streak.
With Saturday’s 45-3 victory over UAPB, the Hogs improved to 5-3 and a 6th win will put them in the enlarged field of bowl-eligible teams.
So, when will that all-important 6th victory come? Of course, it won’t be this week, it’s the Hogs’ bye week; a much-needed respite from what has already been an extraordinarily demanding schedule. Arkansas has faced 4 ranked opponents, 2 in the Top 10, and have split those games – going 2-2 against some of the nation’s best programs.
In all likelihood Arkansas will face only 1 more ranked team the rest of the regular season. They visit defending national champion Alabama on Nov. 20.
By then the Hogs should have already secured that magical 6th victory. Because before they go to Tuscaloosa, Arkansas hosts Mississippi State on Nov. 6 and then travels to Tiger Stadium to face an LSU team, with a lame-duck coach, that really has nothing left to play for.
The Hogs could conceivably win both of those games and sail into Alabama with a 7-3 mark. That remains to be seen but the way Pittman has these Razorbacks playing, it certainly wouldn’t surprise very many if Arkansas had already punched its ticket to the postseason by mid-November.
Then the 2021 regular-season finale with Missouri would be a formality other than perhaps strengthening their spot in the bowl pecking order. But 7 or 8 wins shouldn’t make that much difference in Arkansas’ December destination. It would only increase the electric bill with an additional turning up of the jukebox.
Where might the Hogs wind up?
Well, our latest projections have the Razorbacks headed to Houston to take on Iowa State in the Texas Bowl on Jan. 4. That looks like the most likely spot for Arkansas to land if everything goes as expected.
Of course, when has anything gone as expected especially in this wacky season? Just take Iowa State for example. This past Saturday the Cyclones knocked then-No. 8 Oklahoma State from the ranks of the unbeaten.
So, anything can still, and probably will, happen. But what we do know is that Pittman has the Razorbacks trending in the right direction and with the very next victory will end this dreadful postseason wasteland that any Arkansas fan under retirement age has never experienced before.