SEC Football Season Preview 2014: Arkansas' Schedule Could Be Easier

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The Hogs face an opening gauntlet in August and September, and it never really lets up from there

If there's anything standing in the way of Arkansas making tangible process in its win-loss record this year, it's the schedule. There's a Big 12 out-of-conference opponent in the form of Texas Tech. There's a credible mid-major opponent in Northern Illinois. Sure, there are relatively easy games like UAB and Nicholls State also on the docket, but the Hogs' slate could cause trouble for even a top-tier SEC team.

The conference schedule also doesn't do them any favors. The draws out of the East are Georgia and Missouri. It could be worse, considering the Tigers are expected to take a slight step back this year, but not by much.

Something old, something new. The first month of the season is a bit of a mish-mash for the Razorbacks. There are two former Southwest Conference foes in Texas Tech (now of the Big XII) and Texas A&M (now, of course, of the SEC). There's also Auburn, with whom Arkansas has had some memorable clashes. The Texas Tech game is probably the high point as far as intrigue and fan interest goes, given that the two teams won't be playing each other every year for the foreseeable future. The Northern Illinois game is something a bit new for Arkansas; the Hogs have only played the Huskies once -- in 1994, when NIU was in the Big West and long before it had put together four straight seasons with double-digit wins and shown a knack for knocking off lower-tier teams from the power conferences. The latter of which is probably not a comforting thought for Arkansas fans. But, hey, that Nicholls State game should be an easy win.

At least there are only three games. The Razorbacks take their bye week before the Alabama game, because they can use that extra week to come up with ways to beat the Tide. Please stop laughing. The game against Alabama falls on "1964 National Championship Celebration Weekend," because no one should have a week completely devoid of hope. After that is the annual Little Rock game, this one against the Dawgs; by then, we should know what an Aaron Murray-less Georgia will look like. But barring a collapse on Georgia's part, this looks like a 1-2 month, because even Arkansas should be able to beat UAB at home.

The new Thanksgiving weekend 'tradition.' There will be years when a bye before Alabama and a bye before LSU might be sound strategy for the Razorbacks. This is not one of those years. This looks a bit different than old November schedules for Arkansas, mostly because of the moves around Thanksgiving. LSU is going from playing Arkansas on the Friday after Turkey Day to playing Texas A&M on the holiday itself, given that the Aggies have lost Texas as their Thanksgiving Weekend (and often Thanksgiving Day) opponent. That left Arkansas with an opening that will go to their new "rival," Missouri. The two Mississippi opponents are also in a November comprised entirely of SEC games. Barring a major improvement over 2013 by the Razorbacks, they're likely to be underdogs in all four of them.

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