Now that Bret Bielema is entering his third season as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, expectations are starting to build among College Football betting fans. His first season saw the Hogs go winless in conference play, and last year then were 2-6. Bielema is popular in Fayetteville, and he has built some support in the university community. However, there is a sense that these winning personality traits need to be accompanied by some meaningful wins. The last time Arkansas had a winning record was in 2011, when Bobby Petrino got into a scandal on the back of his motorcycle.
Analyzing the Razorbacks’ Odds To Win the SEC West
If you’re a recruit and want to play for Bret Bielema at Arkansas, you better keep your social media under control. http://t.co/zbGBnszXTK
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 16, 2015
At the SEC Media Days, Bielema pointed out that the team went from 3-9 to 7-6 last season, but he sees 7-6 as more of a starting point. At Wisconsin, Bielema guided the team to 7-6 and then to at least 10 wins every year after that, including three straight Big Ten championships. He is optimistic about the Razorbacks’ chances of continuing to advance.
Talking Razorbacks Offense
How realistic is his optimism, though? There are some concrete signs that the Hogs could be better. They have nine offensive starters returning, including four offensive linemen and all of the crucial skill players. New offensive coordinator Don Enos has come from Central Michigan to boost the passing attack.
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen is a senior who threw for 2,285 yards last year, with 20 touchdowns against only five picks. Receiver Keon Hatcher and tight end Hunter Henry were his two top targets, and they will be back. Running back Jonathan Williams, also a senior, picked up 1,190 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014. Allen is optimistic about the team’s chances because he feels that the talent, coaches and personnel are all in place.
What About Arkansas Defense
On the defensive side of the ball, the Razorbacks do show some cracks. While Arkansas ranked second in the SEC and in the top 10 nationwide for total defense, defensive linemen Trey Flowers, and Darius Philon are gone, as is safety Alan Turner. It’s probably not a coincidence that Arkansas was the only SEC team that brought only offensive players to Media Days.
The Razorbacks also have a tough schedule ahead of them. They open with three non-conference games, and then their first SEC tilt is a “home” game that is actually in Arlington, Texas, at AT&T Stadium. After that, they have two road conference games, at Tennessee and then at Alabama. Finally, in Week 7, they host a conference game when Auburn comes to Fayetteville – on October 24. As Bielema points out, though, the last five SEC West champs were a combined 18-2 in road conference games. It will remain to be seen how close the Hogs will get to joining that group of champions.