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Predicting the 2016 SEC Football Season: Arkansas Razorbacks

With less than 30 days until the college football season begins, it's never too early to look at the 2016 football schedules and make wild blind predictions.

"Nice try, champ."
"Nice try, champ."
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

First installment in the series takes us to Hogville:

arkansas 115x115

Coach: Bret Bielema (18–20 in three seasons at Arky; 7-17 in SEC)
2015 record: 8-5 (5-3 in SEC, tied for 3rd in West Division)
CB969 2015 Prediction: 8-4 "With a soft out-of-conference schedule and home games against weaker SEC teams, Sooie Nation should see their way out of the SEC West basement for the first time under Bert."

Look back: So, I got the record right but the Hogs lost to Toledo, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M in September while defeating the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU down the stretch. If they had not gotten off to their typical rocky start, Arkansas could've had a special season.

Key losses: RB Alex Collins (Round 5, Seahawks), TE Hunter Henry (Round 2, Chargers), RB Jonathan Williams (Round 5, Bills), QB Brandon Allen (Round 6, Jaguars), the entire left side of the offensive line in LG Sebastian Tretola (Round 6, Titans), LT Denver Kirkland, and center Mitch Smothers.
Returning starters: 4 on offense, 8 on defense, punter and kicker.
Top returnees:
OT Dan Skipper, CB Jared Collins, RB Kody Walker (394 yds, 6 TD), WR Drew Morgan (63-843, 10 TD), WR Dominique Reed, OL Frank Ragnow, SS Rohan Gaines, TE Jeremy Sprinkle.
Top newcomers: DE McTelvin Agim Hope (Hope, AR) 5-star game-changer,RB Devwah Whaley (Beaumont, TX), DT Austin Capps (Star City, AR), DT Briston Guidry (Metairie, LA) OG Jake Heinrich (Urbandale, IA), ATH T.J. Hammonds (Little Rock, AR).

Strengths: Wide receivers, running backs, improved secondary (they had nowhere to go but up ranking last in the SEC and 116th out of 128 FBS teams in passing yards allowed per game in 2015.)
Weaknesses: Rebuilding a decimated O-Line depth, defensive depth, playing in the SEC West.

Outlook: The Hogs looked like a different team after they upended Auburn 54-46 in 4 OTs and finished the season 6-1. They hope to carry that over into 2016 but many of their big offensive weapons are gone. Brandon Allen's back-up/shadow/kid brother Austin Allen will take over at QB. Along with the atrocious pass defense last year, the run defense yielded a whopping 25 TDs on the ground. That needs to improve.

2016 Schedule:
Sep 3, Louisiana Tech - W - Lucky for Arky, QB Jeff Driskel and RB Kenneth Dixon are gone to the NFL.
Sep 10, at TCU - L
Sep 17, Texas State - W
Sep 24, Texas A&M - L - Played in Arlington, TX (aka Jerry's World)
Oct 1, Alcorn State - W - The Albatross game played 3.5 hours away in Little Rock, AR.
Oct 8, Alabama - L - Have not beaten the Tide since 2006.
Oct 15, Ole Miss - W - I keep going back and forth on this one, but home field advantage tilts this one their way.
Oct 22, at Auburn - W - Another toss up that could put an end to the Gus Bus.
Oct 29 off week
Nov 5, Florida - L
Nov 12, LSU - L
Nov 19, at Mississippi State - W - A pick 'em but I have little faith in MSU.
Nov 25, at Missouri - W

Let's go Bowling! Yes, Likely somewhere in Florida.

Kudos for facing TCU but that is going to be a tough one to win. Arkansas gets Bama, Ole Miss, Florida and LSU at home; Miss St, Auburn and Mizzou on the road. TAMU is technically a road game.