It's not every year that you have two SEC teams that go 0-8 in the conference in the same season -- which is exactly where the league found itself in 2013, when Arkansas and Kentucky were both winless in conference play. (It happened in 2012 as well, when the unlucky teams were Auburn and -- naturally -- Kentucky.) Having the same two teams go 0-8 in back-to-back seasons is even more unlikely; one of them would almost have to luck into a win if nothing else.
I don't think the same two teams are going to go winless in consecutive years, but I also don't think it's out of the question. Like Kentucky, Arkansas is likely to make some great strides this year toward restoring the program's reputation -- but the Razorbacks have an absolutely brutal schedule. In addition to two losable games in the nonconference schedule, the draws out of the East are Missouri and Georgia. Arkansas could face 10 bowl teams this season, eight of them in their own conference.
Which is to say that there would be no shame in Arkansas going 0-8 in the SEC this year. As much of a cliche as it is in general and about this team in particular, the Hogs really could be a much better team this year and sport an even worse record. Progress in the SEC isn't always something you can measure on the scoreboard.
All that said, Bret Bielema has the pieces to get at least one SEC out of this team. If Brandon Allen can merely reach competence level during his second season at the helm, the backfield looks very good. The defense is going to be a question mark at the beginning of the season. But if it can jell during an opening stretch that is perhaps the easier part of the schedule, then it can be enough of a factor late in the year to put a game within reach.
Yeah, the one I'm picking is an upset, and a pretty big one. But Arkansas is going to have to win a game sooner or later, and it's likely to be a surprise when it does. Since I'll get asked about it: Arkansas has a bye week before facing this opponent, which it has a history of upsetting, while that opponent plays one of its most emotional games of the year the week before. Is Arkansas better than the team I'm calling for it to beat? No. But that's why they call it an upset.
|Place: 7th in the SEC West
Record: 4-8, 1-7 SEC
Could be: 2-10 to 7-5
Best chance for an additional upset: at TEXAS TECH
|8.30.14 | at AUBURN | LOSS|
|9.6.14 | NICHOLLS STATE | WIN|
|9.13.14 | at TEXAS TECH | LOSS|
|9.20.14 | NORTHERN ILLINOIS | WIN|
|10.27.14 | vs. TEXAS A&M (Arlington) | LOSS|
|10.11.14 | ALABAMA | LOSS|
|10.18.14 | GEORGIA (Little Rock) | LOSS|
|10.25.14 | UAB | WIN|
|11.1.14 | at MISSISSIPPI STATE | LOSS|
|11.15.14 | LSU | WIN|
|11.22.14 | OLE MISS | LOSS|
|11.28.14 | MISSOURI | LOSS|