Welcome to the first installment of "Predicting the 2017 SEC Football Season". We kick it off in Hogville:
Coach: Bret Bielema (25–26 in four seasons at Arky; 10-22 in SEC)
2016 record: 7-6 (3-5 in SEC, tied for 5th in West Division)
CB969 2016 Prediction: 7-5 "...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."
Look back: Another typical unpredictable Bert season at Arky. They started out strong with an exciting double OT win at TCU. Then they entered SEC play and started getting torched. The one saving grace may have been a 31-10 upset win over Florida. After playing TCU, the Hogs went win-lose-win-lose-win-lose-win-lose-win-lose. They did NOT improve their rush defense, giving up (hold onto your hats) THIRTY-frickin-NINE touchdowns on the ground, good for dead last in FBS. The FBS average was 22. Alabama led with a minuscule total of five.
Key losses: RB Rawleigh Williams (retirement neck injury), DE Deatrich Wise (Round 4, Patriots), TE Jeremy Sprinkle (Round 5, Redskins), DE Jeremiah Ledbetter (Round 6, Lions), WR Drew Morgan, WR Keon Hatcher, OT Dan Skipper, ILB Brooks Ellis, P Toby Baker.
Returning starters: 6 on offense, 6 on defense, kicker (split kicking duties).
Top returnees: QB Austin Allen (245-401, 3430 YDS, 25 TD, 15 INT), RB Devwah Whaley (110-602, 3 TD), WR Jared Cornelius (32-515, 4 TD), C Frank Ragnow, DE McTelvin Agim, LB De’Jon Harris, CB Kevin Richardson, safeties Santos Ramirez and Josh Liddell.
Top newcomers: Juco TE Jeremy Patton (Indianapolis, IN), RB Chase Hayden (Germantown, TN), WR Brandon Martin (Perkinston, MS), DB Chevin Calloway (Dallas, TX), DB Montaric Brown (Ashdown, AR), RB grad-transfer David Williams (South Carolina), Paul Rhoads was promoted to defensive coordinator, replacing Robb Smith.
Name you need to know: Center Frank Ragnow has potential to be the nation’s top center. This senior is a three year starter who is on the Rimington and Outland Trophy Watch Lists and named first team of several preseason All-American teams.
Strengths: Most of the secondary returns from a unit that yielded only 12 passing touchdowns a season ago (8th best in FBS)... Four of five offensive line starters are back as well... The promotion of former Iowa State head coach (2009–2015) Rhoads is an upgrade...
Weaknesses: Six of the seven leading receivers are gone... Running back depth is a concern as is defensive line and linebacker... The Hogs are breaking in a new punter... Bielema tries to emulate Alabama but he does not know how to recruit the right players... Living in the SEC West, it is always going to be a tough schedule...
Outlook: Bert’s Arkansas teams have been extremely Jekyll & Hyde. They lose some they shouldn’t and then turn around and upset someone. Don’t expect that trend to change anytime soon. Austin Allen is hoping for a big senior year but it is hard to imagine who he will be throwing to other than Cornelius. The Hogs may have to lean on the defense to grind out some tough wins. New defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads should improve the defense but there will be some growing pains as they transition to a 3-4. The real question is how many games must Bielema win in order to stick around Hogville. 8? 9? ...
Aug 31 Florida A&M (Little Rock) 8:00 pm, SECN - W
Sep 9 TCU 3:30 pm, CBS - L - The Frogs are not a top 25 team this year but methinks they avenge their loss to the Razorbacks from last season.
Sep 23 @ Texas A&M (Arlington) - W - After losing 5 straight to the Aggies, Arky will be up for this game.
Sep 30 New Mexico St. - W
Oct 7 @ South Carolina - W - Lose this one and it might be curtains.
Oct 14 @ Alabama - L
Oct 21 Auburn - L
Oct 28 @ Ole Miss - W - It won’t be easy to win in Oxford but they’ve done it before.
Nov 4 Coastal Carolina - W
Nov 11 @ LSU - L
Nov 18 Mississippi St. - L - Could go either way.
Nov 24 Missouri 2:30 pm, CBS - W - Mizzou has won two of three since joining the SEC. The Hogs should even it up, but who knows?
Let's go Bowling! Yes, likely somewhere in Tennessee.
It may be the end of the road for ol’ Bert in Fayetteville if he cannot work some magic. Arky Director of Athletics Jeff Long REALLY does not want to axe his football coach and start all over once again. Many of these games are toss ups but seven is looking like their win total.
LSU regular season wins:
This poll is closed
10 or more
5 or less, wheels fall off