Two weeks in and Arkansas is 2-0. But with two less than stellar opponents to open our schedule, is it a deceptive two wins on the young season?
The huge question mark is no surprise: run-blocking by the offensive line. And if you have ever had the (dare I say) opportunity to cross paths with me at church, a ballgame, or the McDonald’s drive-thru, you might look at me and think I played somewhere on the line myself. The truth is, I have not, so I have no idea what the Hogs need to do to vamp up our rushing production.
Here is what I do know, or what I fear, perhaps. When Brigham Young University comes into Donald W Reynolds on Saturday, they could expose even more issues with our offense. In fact, the possibility exists their defense could do a strong enough job to keep our offense from forming enough rushing yards to keep the game close.
That is my fear. But, for clarity, it is not what I am saying is going to happen.
In watching the first two games, multiple times I sat back and pondered, “Is Pittman scaling back the offense for these two cupcakes?”
Those familiar with football will know this is not a foreign strategy; however, I also take pause because Pittman stated that against Kent State, the decision was made at half-time to run Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson more frequently. Yet, in coaching world, this could also be purely smoke and mirrors.
Against the Golden Flashes, Kent State managed to speed up the game thus giving the Razorbacks’ offense less possession time. Arkansas also seemed content in passing the ball more without running back Rocket Sanders on the field.
Regardless of what took place in the first two games, BYU is in town, and we can turn our focus upon them.
Why BYU will win
Cougars Senior quarterback Kedon Slovis. He has the capability to pass for big yardage if our “new” secondary is not up to the task. Remember, Arkansas has had issues having a consistent defense against mid- to upper-tier gunslingers, but they have looked sharp to this point in 2023.
A freshman in the backfield. BYU running back LJ Martin runs like he has seven mothers chasing after him for not attending institute this week.
No Rocket. Hear me out. Arkansas has some great players in the backfield, but they are even stronger with Rocket Sanders, who is out for the game. BYU has an aggressive defense which will try to swarm anyone carrying the ball.
Why Arkansas will win
Improvement on the offensive line. This is a prediction, of course, but if the Hogs have made improvement in that key area this week, then the loss of Sanders (who had a huge Saturday in Provo last season) will easily be offset by AJ Green, Rashod Dubinion, and Dominique Johnson.
Tackles for loss. I have a sneaky suspicion the Razorbacks defense is ready to step up even more to show what they can achieve. If BYU tries to go pass-heavy, our defensive front will be pressuring Slovis all night. And with our defense and its coordinator, Travis Williams, salivating to make their mark in the college football world, I do mean all night.
No more Puka Nacua. The BYU wide receiver lit up the stat board in Provo last year, and his play was the biggest reason the game stayed close during the first three quarters. He is a Los Angeles Ram now, and, I for one, am thankful.
Fans in the house. This game will not fill every seat, but there will be at least 70,000 Razorback fans in the seats for the first big game of the season. With it being a night game, if Arkansas comes out hot, the “tailgate happy” crowd will be into this game big time. Let’s show the newest Big 12 member how loud an SEC crowd can be and disrupt the Cougar offense.
Arkansas 31 – 28
Do not forget, KJ can tuck the ball and gain some major yardage on the ground as well. That said, KJ, if you are reading this, my anxiety shoots through the roof every time you take a hit.
Also on that note, I felt bad for the Kent State defensive player who fell victim to KJ’s power.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Arkansas and BYU had never met in football until last season. Which other popular Christian school have the Hogs never faced but will welcome into Fayetteville in 2025?
I am leaving this up until it is no longer a truth: Pittman STILL has a lot to prove for himself and his coaching staff. He may turn up the jukebox early just to prove a point.
I am no stranger to social media, and the number of Arkansans who have an axe to grind over the Mountain Meadows Massacre remains strong. Are some commenting on this topic doing so tongue-in-cheek? Sure. Have I spoken with some who are 100% serious? Absolutely. I feel ya.
TRIVIA ANSWER: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will grace us with their presence in 2025, and we will repay the favor with a trip to South Bend in 2028.
Be nice to our visitors this weekend, Hogs fans. They are a little cocky, but they are usually nice people. And for Pete’s sake, Andy, stop offering them sweet tea.
Does anyone else remember when Zach Arns said he was leaving on his Mormon mission (in 2002 I believe), or am I just fabricating memories now?
Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. at Razorback Stadium and the game is on ESPN2. The weather should be great. You can listen to the pregame show from the Stadium Shoppe on Razorback Road with Tye Richardson, Tommy Craft and Christian Johnston presented by the Stadium Shoppe and KC Insurance Partners.
You can listen to the game on ESPN Arkansas 99.5 in Fayetteville, 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home. After the game the postgame show begins when the network broadcast decides to wrap up (probably about 11 p.m.), then Derek Ruscin, Zach Arns and DQ will be talking about the game. That is presented by the Teague Law Firm and Signature Bank.
SEC Picks for Week 3
A large percentage of SEC games this weekend will be starting at 6:00 or later, so at least during the trip up to ‘The Hill’, you will not have to feel like you are missing too many high-interest games.
Also, Andy has been extremely preoccupied this week. Last I heard he was looking for a missing little blue bird and a new crystal ball for his SEC picks. He will need the latter (no pun intended, BYU fans) this week.
(14) LSU at Mississippi State – You know it is SEC season when these two gritty programs square off. The Tigers have to win this game, or their season may begin to crumble. As good as he is, I do not believe Will Rogers can overcome LSU’s defense. Tigers by 14.
(15) Kansas State at Missouri – I thought the Tigers did not want to play Kansas State anymore. We will find out why this weekend. Wildcats by 20.
South Carolina at (1) Georgia – A notch in the win column will have to wait for those hoping Beamer Ball can pick up some momentum. Georgia has not looked like Georgia yet, so this game will be close going into the 4th quarter. Bulldogs by 21.
(10) Alabama at South Florida – Word on the streets is Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban has made a change at starting quarterback, opting to begin with redshirt sophomore Tyler Buchner in place of fellow redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe. We have not seen the last of Jalen, though. So far he leads Alabama in rushing yards with 92-yards. You know, that’s actually a bad sign for Bama and a good sign for South Florida… but not good enough. The Bulls do not have the firepower. Crimson Tide by 32.
Louisiana-Monroe at Texas A&M – Have you seen the “SEC Shorts” crew on “YouTube” providing a parody of an Aggie fan visiting with the Grim Reaper? I will not give it all away, but here is a small spoiler alert: Fisher has been the head coach of A&M for six years now. SIX YEARS. Aggie fans will not feel better after this week, but they will have a win to enjoy. Aggies by 35.
(11) Tennessee at Florida – When I was a kid this was one of the best games in all of college football. Florida would like to make it that way again, but they seem to struggle each year they receive some preseason love from the pundits. This game will be in the Swamp, so that will help the Gators keep it close. Not close enough to save Billy Napier though. Vols by 22.
Samford at Auburn – Picking this game is about as fun as what I assume doing a live broadcast from a convenience store in Barling would be. Plainsmen by 41.
Vanderbilt at UNLV – CBS picked up this game because it meets their requirement to air each team, and it will probably be the best match-up for Vandy this season. We might actually see the Commodores 3 and 1 for the first time in a long time in Week 3 … or is it Week 4? Vandy by 4.
Georgia Tech at (17) Ole Miss – I am not convinced the Rebels are as good as the polls show; however, I know at home they are at least 17-points better than Georgia Tech. Ole Miss by 21.
BYU at Arkansas – GAME OF THE WEEK: The “GOW” honor was originally going to go to UT at Florida, but at the last minute I changed it to our favorite team and our visitors from the mountains. It has the potential to be the best match-up this weekend. Hopefully not, as I am certain most of us would prefer a blowout victory for our Hogs. Razorbacks by 3.
Akron at Kentucky – Kentucky will be 3 and 0 when they roll into Vanderbilt next week. Wildcats by 30.
This week was a tough choice for our local gambling expert, Eric. But in the end it was Minnesota traveling to North Carolina that grabbed his attention.
[Note: We do not promote gambling, and if you have an addiction to wagering money on any circumstances, please seek professional help. No, not me.]
Minnesota @ North Carolina (-7 1/2 o/u 49 1/2)
Appalachian State is a solid football team who regularly gives its in-state opponents fits. As was apparent last week, Nebraska’s offense is ineffective. Why is this the opening to this game prediction? Entering the third week of the season, we now have an opportunity to analyze and compare prior outcomes while we ponder future results.
As I ponder, UNC will try to rebound from a dismal performance. The Heels will take advantage of an untested Gopher defensive secondary. The Gophers come in with a similar disappointing win and a gift-wrapped win over Nebraska. Their defensive secondary is untested but will be this Saturday. I’m taking NC to easily cover the 7-1/2 spread on this one.
UNC quarterback Drake Maye will use this game as an early opportunity to get the attention of Heisman voters’ focus off of the west coast. He is also trying to improve on his lackluster 200-yard, zero touchdown performance last week. With a predicted sunny day, I expect the ball to be in the air and end zone frequently, testing Minnesota’s secondary.
If this analysis holds true, I feel the 50-point plateau will be passed in the third quarter. So, I am also placing a wager on the over of 49=1/2 points in this game as well. This is an early line, so I would also take that total up through 51, if necessary.
Over 49-1/2 (play up to 51)
Great take, Eric. Let’s get ready to rock, Razobacks fans. We need the noise, and we need to excite our young men representing us in the cardinal red uniforms. We got this.
Thank you to the Masters and Kelly families for reading and for their support. It motivates me to finish these at 3:00 on Saturday mornings.
No parting shots at BYU, but I sure would like to.
Find me on ‘X’: @PeterMorganWPS