Arkansas Season Win Total Prediction
Few teams in college football ended the 2015 season with more momentum than the Arkansas Razorbacks. Now that the word is out, though, can the Hogs keep trending up?
Online sports book Bovada.lv sets this fall’s win total at 7.5 for Brett Bielema’s immensely talented group. Last year’s squad finished 8-5 (5-3 SEC) following a brutal start. Several major difference-makers suddenly left for the NFL, but Fayetteville’s talent pool remains potent.
Count new starting quarterback Austin Allen among those likely to touch stardom within the next few months. His older brother, Brandon, previously piloted the program for three campaigns. The younger Allen reportedly has a greater penchant for derring-do, frequently zeroing in on the deep strike at the expense of the intermediate stuff. Interceptions are inevitable, but at least the wideout crew features four impact seniors. Keon Hatcher should be back to full health after missing 11 games, while Drew Morgan, Cody Hollister and Dominique Reed provide thoroughly capable complementary options.
Fans who grew up on the backfield stylings of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, of course, crave superior ground results in equal measure. Arkansas won’t disappoint in that area, either, in offensive coordinator Dan Enos’ second season. Look for a three-headed monster of senior Kody Walker, sophomore Rawleigh Williams and true freshman Devwah Whaley to eventually materialize. Injuries to Walker (broken foot midway through spring drills) and Williams (neck surgery), however, may even open the door for Damon Mitchell and T.J. Hammonds.
Up front, the Hogs absorbed a couple of huge losses. Center Mitch Smother graduated and left tackle Denver Kirkland latched on with the Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent -- a not-so-perfect storm for incoming position coach Kurt Anderson. Dan Skipper and Frank Ragnow must show the way for JUCO transfers such as Paul Ramirez and Terrance Malone.
The Razorbacks’ biggest priority on defense consists of upgrading the secondary. One almost takes the perpetually phenomenal front four for granted, but if those corners and safeties continue to get torched, imagine the pain that TCU and Texas A&M could inflict in September. That’s merely the beginning of a slew of encounters with conference foes that execute the spread, too, as Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida and Mississippi State also turn up on the schedule.
Regardless of the brutal division in which it competes, Arkansas clearly possesses the components to contact a nine- or 10-victory campaign. Bielema’s moving matters in the right direction, and if Austin Allen replicates his older sibling’s feats on campus, we’re potentially monitoring a Playoff-caliber school.
MONDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL FREE PICK: ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS OVER 7.5 WINS