SEC 2010 // One Reason to Like Arkansas: Look at the Schedule

One of the reasons Arkansas has to be favored to at least make a run at the SEC West is its schedule. It's not exactly easy -- no slate in the SEC ever is -- but the game with Alabama is in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks don't play Florida and they also face the two most dangerous non-Alabama SEC West teams at home.

OFFENSE GALORE?

at GEORGIA | Sept. 18
Is the defense fixed and will this game tell us? It depends. If Aaron Murray and Co. light up the scoreboard, chances are it's not fixed. (The Georgia offense is probably going to be just fine, but not that just fine by the third week in the season.) If Georgia has some trouble scoring, we can withhold judgement barring something truly surprising. Besides, it's not like it's going to take that long to actually figure out how good the defense is. It should take roughly one week.

ALABAMA | Sept. 25
This is the game for the Razorbacks this year. If they can put up a few more points that Alabama, it could very well set them on a path for the SEC West championship. Alabama is the most difficult SEC game on the schedule, and a win here would make Arkansas very difficult to catch with the Tide looking at a game with Florida the following week. That also makes this game a dangerous one for Alabama. But the Tide has actually figured out they are allowed to play on offense, too. If the Arkansas defense isn't ready or Nick Saban figures out how to shut down Bobby Petrino's offense, then Arkansas will have an early deficit in the division race that could be too big to overcome.

at AUBURN | Oct. 16
Here's a number that really doesn't tell you anything: Arkansas is 7-7 against Auburn in televised football games. (Oddly enough, the Arkansas media guide includes the school's record against other schools when televised but not the overall mark.) It's a showdown between two of the most anticipated offenses in the SEC this year, one all but guaranteed to be good and the other a slight question mark but expected to be solid. Last year's combined 67 points could be challenged.

RIVALRIES -- REAL AND SORT OF REAL

OLE MISS | Oct. 23
One can only imagine that the Houston Nutt vs. Arkansas story is starting to lose some of its pizazz. After all, he isn't Nick Saban; it's not like he won a national title in Fayetteville. But there's still enough bitterness in some circles at Nutt -- just try writing a post suggesting Nutt didn't really underachieve at Arkansas if you doubt this -- to make it somewhat interesting. And with Jeremiah Masoli a likely player for the Rebels, there are more than enough ways for this game to run off the rails.

at SOUTH CAROLINA | Nov. 6
This has actually begun to take on some of the characteristics of a real rivalry after being arranged during SEC expansion as both team's interdivisional "rivalry" game. The teams are 3-3 against each other over the last six games, sometimes in low-scoring contests and sometimes in offensive bouts. (Darren McFadden tied the record for most rushing yards by an SEC player in the 2007 edition.) Odds favor the latter until Arkansas' defense proves otherwise or South Carolina proves there are offensive depths it has not yet plumbed.

LSU | Nov. 27
Want a wild game? This is a good bet for one. The last three games have been decided in the final moments or in overtime. In 2006, the Bengals gave Arkansas a loss as the Razorbacks headed to the SEC Championship Game; the Hogs returned the favor the next year by nearly knocking LSU out of the BCS National Championship Game. (This was before West Virginia and Missouri decided to demonstrate what happens when two teams compete for "most spectacular nationally televised self-destruction.") Even with one half of the craziest coaching couple in SEC history (Les Miles vs. Houston Nutt) leaving this rivalry, something bizarre is almost certain to take place.

OTHER GAMES

9.4.10 | TENNESSEE TECH This is not Tennessee. Nor is it Texas Tech. You may disregard this game unless you are an Arkansas fan.

9.11.10 | LOUISIANA-MONROE Believe it or not, this game will actually be televised on FSN.

10.9.10 | vs. TEXAS A&M Arkansas blasted the Aggies in last year's renewal of an old SWC rivalry that was almost an SEC rivalry.

10.30.10 | VANDERBILT If it comes down to a single game between the Razorbacks and the Tide, keep in mind that Alabama plays Florida and Arkansas plays Vanderbilt.

11.13.10 | UTEP Another November cupcake.

11.20.10 | at MISSISSIPPI STATE Bobby Petrino's second trip to Starkville with Arkansas; he lost the last one.

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