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Who Will Arkansas Score 60 on This Season?

It's going to happen.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Bret Bielema is an anomaly in college coaching thanks to being a defensive guy by trade who's known primarily for offense. You hear the phrase "Bret Bielema offense" thrown around a bit, but I can't say I've ever heard about a "Bret Bielema defense".

Other defensive coaches built their name in part by overseeing great offenses, but you'd never hear about the "Bob Stoops offense" or the "Pete Carroll offense". You also get guys like Kevin Sumlin, who played linebacker but ended up doing all his coaching on the offensive side. That's not the same as Bielema's situation, though.

Bielema is also unusual among defensive coaches because he's unafraid to run up the score. In nine seasons as a head coach, his teams have scored at least 50 points 15 times, 60 points seven times (plus two more 59s), and 70 points five times. The coup de grâce was his 83-20 demolition of Indiana in 2010. Bielema does put in his backups in these games, as you do, but they run the offense and don't try to avoid scoring points.

By comparison, Nick Saban's college teams have scored 60 just twice in his 19 seasons. If you want to avoid ringing up that many points, you can do it. Bielema doesn't want to—and as a guy who grew up on Steve Spurrier football in Florida, I have no problem with that approach.

You might figure that Bielema has run up this many points mostly on cupcakes, but that's not really true. Only seven of the 15 times he's hit 50 or more came against mid-majors: four Group of Five teams and three I-AA teams. Two of those came last year when he beat Nicholls State 73-7 and Northern Illinois 52-14.

The other eight times were in Big Ten play. You might remember his 70-31 Big Ten title game win in his final game at Wisconsin, but he also seemed to just love beating down Indiana. In seven games against largely hapless Hoosier teams, he had final scores of 83-20, 62-14, 59-7, 55-20, and 52-17. The seven games came out to 375-109, or an average of 53.6-15.6. The only comparable run I can think of was Spurrier blasting Bill Curry's Kentucky teams 321-94 (45.9-13.4) including 73-7 and 65-0 scores from 1990-96. Spurrier at least had a reason; he held a grudge against Curry for not retaining him on the staff when Curry took over as head coach at Georgia Tech in 1980. I am not aware of any specific reason why Bielema beat the tar out of Indiana so often.

Anyway, looking at the schedule, I can see a few opportunities for the Razorbacks to hit at least 60 points. UT-Martin, which isn't that great even by I-AA standards, is a candidate in October. The opener against UTEP, which projects to be towards the bottom of I-A, is a strong one as well if Bielema wants to make a statement right off the bat. Toledo is probably too good to get 60 put on them, but they'll likely yield 40, if not 50.

It's not obvious that any of the Hogs' major conference foes will give up 60 to Bielema like Indiana, Purdue, and Northwestern used to. The fact that they get Tennessee and Missouri from the East doesn't help the cause in the way that, say, Vanderbilt would. If I had to pick one, I'd go with Texas Tech on September 26. The Red Raiders have yet to field anything resembling a tough defense under Kilff Kingsbury, and Arkansas put up 49 in Lubbock last year. This time around, it's a home game for the Hogs. I can see that one getting out of hand.

As for SEC play, the single best chance of it happening is probably Texas A&M—but please note Aggie fans, I would put the odds of it happening at well under 50%. TAMU is transitioning to a new defensive coordinator, and while John Chavis is one of the best, he's not a wizard. He can give up big numbers to great offenses when he doesn't have the players he needs, and I'm not sure he'll have them in 2015. Myles Garrett is a beast, yes, but pass rushing will be of limited use against this attack. With the team facing UTEP, Toledo, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M in the season's first month, I could see it taking until October before someone holds it under 50 points in a game.

It's only a matter of time before Bielema will have Arkansas scoring points with abandon at times like he did at Wisconsin. We saw a couple glimpses of it last year, but with this year's team, we're going to see it more.