FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ three-game preseason schedule of games to get ready for the 2023 season continues today with the Razorback Stadium home opener against Kent State. Don’t expect it to be anywhere near close … or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s all on the Razorbacks because the only way the Golden Flashes are anywhere close in the second half of this one is if the Hogs play down to their level. We’ve seen it before.
We got some good signs last week about definitive answers among the many on this team in the scrimmage in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Whoever is in charge down there apparently wasn’t particularly interested in trying to keep thems as that should be proof positive the Hogs should never play a game there again. That place simply isn’t capable of hosting high school championship games, much less an SEC game.
Hogs coach Sam Pittman lets others deal with that political hot potato. He took care of business, beating Western Carolina with more film to find good things and other coaching points to make getting players better. With these first three games where the final score should not be in doubt, all they are doing is getting ready for the SEC schedule, when things really start counting.
That will come in Arlington against Texas A&M, which will happen just one more time in AT&T Stadium on Sept. 30. If the Hogs can get there 3-2 on the season, it’s going to be a difficult year. Two more road games are coming up right after that making a split essential to hold anything together. But that’s future projections without enough solid information to go on.
This week’s SEC lineup of games will tell us much more about the rest of the league, which affects what the Hogs have to do in order to have the type of season everybody would like to see. Finishing September 3-2 though, takes them out of any championship possibililties, so finding out the right pieces now to be ready are starting to get a little critical.
Don’t expect this week to be much closer. There may be people slipping out of the stadium by the second half if this one isn’t close then. It actually could get out of hand pretty quickly simply because Kent State doesn’t have the numbers or quality players the Hogs have. The game won’t be close and we’ll probably see more of backup quarterback Jacolby Criswell. Hogs by 42.
SEC Picks for Week 2
Peter picked and chose which games to pick with a lot of blowouts last week and he found out that could be deemed a forfeit (and a loss) on games not picked. That will still be determined, so no rush there. We probably have a couple of disagreements this week that could swing either way with the quality of games improving a little.
Vanderbilt at Wake Forest – Is Vandy for real after looking sharper than anyone really expected in the first two games? Wake Forest isn’t that bad. Deamon Deacons by 14.
Ball State at (1) Georgia – Are the Bulldogs just playing an extended preseason? You would have thought the two-time national champion would be playing in one of those kickoff classics, but maybe like to be a little off the radar. Bulldogs by 52.
Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky – Exactly why the SEC allows little weak schedules like this is beyond me. There’s more chance that something bad happens playing bad games than any of the positives. Wildcats by 35.
(20) Ole Miss at (24) Tulane – Despite what Pete thinks, this has usually been a tough game for Ole Miss and wanted some kind of test early and the Green Wave have been bowling a lot lately, so don’t expect a pushover, but you can look for lots of offense. Rebels by 5 (take the over).
(23) Texas A&M at Miami – We’ll know what A&M has a little better after this game, which actually should interest Hog fans much more than any others because they meet in a couple of weeks. It will be part of the scouting tape for that game the Hogs would like win again, something they haven’t managed, coming up with creative ways to lose. Aggies by 17.
Austin Peay at (9) Tennessee – I’ll answer the question Pete asked about this game to say Austin Peay needs the payday becuase they don’t have realistic hopes of winning this game. Vols by 51.
(11) Texas at (3) Alabama – GAME OF THE WEEK: Nobody wants to believe Texas is heading back, which seems to happen every year. It’s not a lack of talent, it’s been too many chiefs and not enough Indians in the program. They may have that chief in Steve Sarkisian, who won a national title with Nick Saban. He knows the formula like Kirby Smart learned it and he’s at a place where he can recruit as well as Alabama. The home field will help … barely, but don’t be shocked at an upset. Tide by 3.
Middle Tennessee State at Missouri – The Tigers just keep hanging on and that probably includes coach Eli Drinkwitz to his job in Missouri if anybody really pays that much attention. Sports isn’t the biggest deal going on in Columbia, Mo. Tigers by 28.
Grambling at (14) LSU – The Tigers will be in the mix of the top three by the end of the season. Either that or a new coach that doesn’t have to fake a southern accent could be hired. LSU by 31.
McNeese at Florida – Florida should have this one with very little trouble. Gators by 44.
Arizona at Mississippi State – State is breaking in a new coach and finding his footing. Last week started a little wobbly, but got better as the game went along, but this one should be much smoother. Bulldogs by 14.
Furman at South Carolina – Shane Beamer found out last week that Mack Brown hasn’t completely lost his touch for getting big game efforts out of a team. The Gamecocks aren’t playing anybody that good this year. This is what everybody gets for paying attention to talking heads saying the Tar Heels are over-rated. Gamecocks by 21.
Auburn at California – Believe in Hugh Freeze because he knows what he’s doing. Tigers by 10.