Ranking the games on Arkansas' schedule from easiest to toughest
Soon thousands of fans dressed in Razorback Red will journey to watch Arkansas take on Eastern Illinois in the first game of the season.
The Panthers enter as an FCS opponent and will be blown out of the water. After that contest, nothing is set in stone. Conference play kicks off a few weeks later and could spell trouble early.
Weeks 4-7 are a gauntlet and one of the reasons many believe Arkansas has one of the toughest schedules in college football. Auburn, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss are the opponents the Razorbacks will face during that span.
Here are projections for margins of victory, ranked from losses/narrow wins to the biggest blowout. And yes, Arkansas is going to be squashed a time or two this season.
12. Eastern Illinois
When: Sept. 1
Prediction: Arkansas wins by 31
Why: Eastern Illinois finished above .500 last season, but only one of its wins came against a team with a winning record. Even though it’s Chad Morris’ first game, the Razorbacks should have no problem. FBS opponents have never had trouble with FCS opponents after all …
When: Oct. 20
Prediction: Arkansas wins by 17
Why: Arkansas has won 18 consecutive against Tulsa and holds a 56-16-3 lead overall. Arkansas gets a must-needed break in this game after playing Auburn, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss.
10. Colorado State
When: Sept. 8
Prediction: Arkansas wins by 13
Why: Road games are difficult any any environment and the first one always brings unforeseen challenges. Colorado State doesn’t return much of the talent from last season.
Coach Mike Bobo knows what talent the SEC has to offer after coaching quarterbacks and the offense at Georgia from 2001-2014. His team will be focused and ready to play, as evidenced by its close loss to Alabama last year on the road.
9. North Texas
When: Sept. 15
Prediction: Arkansas wins by 10
Why: Mason Fine is one of the better non-Power 5 quarterbacks in the country. This could be a trap game with Arkansas heading to The Plains the following weekend. This is the most talented nonconference team the Razorbacks will play.
When: Oct. 27
Prediction: Arkansas wins by 7
Why: Vanderbilt fans are still angry about Marquel Wade’s hit on Jonathan Krause back in 2011. Commodores fans won’t be smiling after this game concludes. Even with a better quarterback in Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt will find a way to blow this game.
7. Ole Miss
Location: Home (Little Rock)
When: Oct. 13
Prediction: Arkansas wins by 3
Why: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Time and time again, Arkansas has found away to thwart the Rebels in the waning moments of games the past three seasons. Hard to pick against a team with such good luck against another opponent until you see the clock strike midnight.
When: Nov. 23
Prediction: Arkansas loses by 7
Why: Missouri has won three of their four games as SEC opponents and has the difference-maker in Drew Lock. Even in a new offense under offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, Lock will carve up Arkansas.
When: Nov. 10
Prediction: Arkansas loses by 10
Why: This will be a fun series to watch the next couple of seasons assuming Dave Aranda and Chad Morris stay at their respective schools. Aranda’s defense will be in the backfield all day long, just like last year. It’s a gritty one with LSU leaving with the “Golden Boot” once again.
4. Texas A&M
Location: Neutral (AT&T Stadium)
When: Sept. 29
Prediction: Arkansas loses by 13
Why: When the Aggies walk into “Jerry World” and see their opponent, a smile comes across the players faces. Every time they have faced adversity against the Razorbacks since 2012, Arkansas has managed to blunder what could have been the win. New head coach Jimbo Fisher hopes that trend continues.
3. Mississippi State
When: Nov. 17
Prediction: Arkansas loses by 17
Why: New coach Joe Moorhead inherits a great quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald and better defense. It also helps that he walks into a 9-win team that returns 18 starters. That’s a lot better than 17 starters returning to a 4-8 team — AKA Arkansas ….
When: Sept. 22
Prediction: Arkansas loses by 24
Why: Arkansas’ first SEC road game under Morris. Going against a Heisman candidate in Jarrett Stidham and one of the best front sevens in college football doesn’t bode well.
When: Oct. 6
Prediction: Arkansas loses by 35
Why: Chad Morris, meet Nick Saban. Arkansas has not beaten him since he got to Tuscaloosa. Add another loss to the 10-game streak.