Arkansas Razorbacks Football Schedule Preview: October

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

I have the Hogs off to a quick start in September, but can the Razorbacks survive the brutal middle stretch of the season?

As I continue to preview each month of Arkansas' 2013 football schedule, I have Arkansas finishing September at 4-1 heading into the gauntlet of its schedule in October.

October could prove to be a humbling month for Arkansas after a quick start to the season, with all of its opponents ranked in the top 10 nationally, at least in preseason. This month we'll see the Hogs take on Florida in Gainesville, welcome in Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, and make the always dreaded trip to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide.

Game #6: at Florida (Oct. 5)

Florida is looking to build off a great 2012 season that didn't end the way they had liked, losing to Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl 33-23. Nonetheless, head coach Will Muschamp has his players fired up and ready to battle Georgia and South Carolina for the SEC East crown.

Things to know:

- Lost kick returner Andre Debose for the season to a torn ACL in fall practice. Debose is second in SEC history in kick return average (27.4).

-The Gators lost eight players to the NFL Draft this year, top back from 2012 Mike Gillislee. Another six players were signed as undrafted free agents.

- Florida has been selected to finish 3rd in the SEC East.

- Starting QB Jeff Driskel had emergency appendectomy surgery July 30.  Driskel was also drafted by the Boston Red Sox during the offseason, but has made it clear he will be fully engaged as Florida's quarterback and will be recovered from the appendectomy in time to start Florida's first game this year.

- The Gators are the preseason #10 team in the nation

Key returning players:

QB Jeff Driskel – The junior QB is entering his second full season as the Gators starter.  Driskel threw for 1,646 yards (137/game) and 12 TDs in 2012.  He is also the team's leading returning rusher after racking up 408 yards and 4 TDs last season.

WR Trey Burton – A senior who will be looked upon as one of Jeff Driskel's main targets in 2013.  Burton hauled in 18 catches for 172 yards and a touchdown in 2012.  He also ran the ball 29 times for 190 yards and two scores, and completed three of four passes for a mere four yards last season.

CB Louchiez Purifoy – A 2013 1st team preseason All-SEC defensive back and the team's top returning tackler from last season (51).  Purifoy tallied five pass breakups, and forced three fumbles in 2012. He also blocked a pair of kicks on special teams, proving to be more than a lockdown corner.

DL Dominique Easley – Another 1st team All-SEC performer for the Gators and the team's sack leader in 2012.  Easley racked up 26 tackles in 2012, 8.5 of those for loss.  He also tallied a pass breakup and recovered a fumble on defense.

Game #7: South Carolina (Oct. 12)

The Ol' Ball Coach returns to Fayetteville looking to create a Gamecock winning streak over Arkansas after beating the Hogs last year for the first time since 2008.  The 2013 Gamecocks return key cogs from a 2012 team that finished 11-2 and defeated Michigan in the Outback Bowl 33-28.

Things to know:

- South Carolina defeated Arkansas 38-20 in 2012.

- Preseason #7 team in the nation

- Lost seven players to the NFL Draft including star running back Marcus Lattimore. Three other players signed as undrafted free agents.

- The Gamecocks use two QBs in their system (Connor Shaw, Dylan Thompson).

Key returning players:

DE Jadeveon Clowney – Quite possibly the most electrifying player in college football.  In 2012, Clowney finished 6th in the Heisman balloting and earned unanimous All-American honors.  He was also named the AT&T All-American Player of the Year in 2012, and has been named to the Nagurski, Lombardi, Bednarik and Maxwell Award watch lists.

QB Connor Shaw – Named to the Manning Award and Davey O'Brien Award watch lists.  Shaw has amassed a 17-3 record as the Gamecock starter (10-0 at home).  He threw for 1,956 yards and 17 TDs and rushed for 435 yards and three scores in 2012.

QB Dylan Thompson – The second QB in Spurrier's two-QB system. Thompson threw for 1,027 yards and 10 TDs in 2012 and tossed the game winning touchdown in the Outback Bowl vs Michigan. He has thrown for over 300 yards and 3 scores in each of his two career starts (Clemson, East Carolina).

WR Bruce Ellington – Caught the game winning touchdown pass in the Outback Bowl to defeat Michigan.  Ellington, who also plays guard on the Gamecock basketball team, caught 40 passes for 600 yards and 7 TDs in 2012.  He also had a career-high 104 receiving yards against Arkansas in 2012.  Ellington has been named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list with teammate Damiere Byrd.

Game #8: at Alabama (Oct. 19)

I think it's safe to say it's a dynasty.  Alabama, after winning its second straight national title in 2013 and third in the last four years, is at it again. The Crimson Tide roll into 2013 as the preseason #1 and favorite to hoist their third consecutive crystal ball.

Things to know:

- 4 players on Phil Steele's preseason 1st team All-American team.

- Picked as the favorites to win the SEC... again.

- Defeated (to put it lightly) Arkansas 52-0 in 2012.

- Lost nine players to the NFL Draft, and three more signed undrafted free agent deals. Most people don't seem to think they'll have much trouble replacing them though.

Key returning players:

QB AJ McCarron – The Crimson Tide senior quarterback has accumulated a 24-2 record as a starter for Nick Saban.  McCarron threw for 2, 669 yards and 26 TDs (a new school record) in 2012.  He also finished 2012 as a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and was a consensus 2nd team All-SEC performer.

RB TJ Yeldon – Enters his sophomore year after earning freshman All-American honors in 2012.  Yeldon ran for 1,131 yards and 11 TDs in 2012 as a backup to Eddie Lacy for most of the season.  He has also earned 2013 1st team preseason All-American honors by Sporting News.

WR Amari Cooper – Tabbed a freshman All-American and named to the SEC All-Freshman team by SEC coaches in 2013.  Cooper is McCarron's go-to guy, hauling in 53 passes for 895 yards and 9 TDs in 2012.  He has also been named a 2013 1st team preseason All-American by Sporting News, and a 2nd teamer by Sports Illustrated.

LB CJ Mosley – Led the Crimson Tide defense in tackles in 2012 with 99 (43 more than second most).  Mosley was a finalist for the Butkus Award and a semi-finalist for the Bednarik Award in 2012.  He was named an in 2012 All-American by the Associated Press, Sporting News, Walter Camp and Sports Illustrated.  Mosley is, of course, a 1st team preseason All-American in 2013.

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Following the trip to Tuscaloosa, Arkansas has a much-needed open date on October 26. This will serve as time for rest and healing possible injuries to get the team up for the four games in November, a month that will likely define Arkansas' season.

Results:

After breaking down Arkansas' October schedule, I have the Hogs going 0-3, dropping them to 4-4 on the year. But, hey, upsets are always possible, right?

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