1. I think Razorback fans know exactly what they'll be getting should Gary Nova play. What should they expect if backup Chas Dodd is forced to play?
It's been quite a career for Chas Dodd. He actually has several starts under his belt, but outside of a few games, his production is mostly unimpressive. There used to be many a Rutgers fan who thought Chas should be starting all along, but you'll notice that most of those fans have disappeared now that Nova potentially doubtful for the game.
2. Paul James, the Scarlet Knight running back who happens to be leading the nation in rushing... is a walk-on. How the heck does that happen? What type of runner will the Arkansas defense be attempting to stop?
Paul James is serving up crow every week to each and every recruiting service (and recruiting coordinator). The walk on is seriously making Savon Huggins, a former five-star recruit and #1 player in NJ, look like a real bust.
James is the type of back that the RU offense thrives on. He is a bruising runner that rarely gets tackled by a single defender and wears down the opposing defense with his downhill running style. He already has more big play runs (50+ yards) than Ray Rice had in his entire Rutgers career.
3. Arkansas is most likely going to rush the ball more than 50 times Saturday afternoon. How stout is the Scarlet Knight run defense? What names should Razorback fans be listening for?
Rutgers currently ranks 5th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game, but to be honest the Scarlet Knights haven't played anyone of note with a strong running game. RU did finish 2012 as the 10th ranked defense, and head coach Kyle Flood lives by stopping the run first. The Razorbacks will be a good test to see how stout Rutgers' run D really is.
Defensive line coach Jim Panagos has a lot of talent to work with. Five-star DT Darius Hamilton is living up to his recruitment hype as a disruptive force as the three-tech, and NT Ike Holmes really clogs up the middle to prevent any gap penetration. Steve Longa is a redshirt freshman starting at MLB and has the quickness to make those sideline-to-sideline tackles. Rutgers really is a swarm defense however, especially against the run, so look for a lot of different Knights to defend the run, even the defensive backs.
4. It seems the Razorbacks will have a respectable contingent of fans making the trip to Piscataway this weekend. What type of reception will they receive? What is the pregame tailgating situation like? What about the stadium atmosphere?
As long as you're not wearing Syracuse across your chest, you'll be greeted with a very warm welcome. I definitely suggest making your way around the different lots and taking in the tailgates, as many RU fans will be happy to offer a beer and a prediction for the game. Many members at On The Banks had nothing but nice things to say about Fayetteville last season, so I expect nothing but friendly vibes from both fan bases.
Years of mediocre competition from the Big East and now the American has tempered the stadium atmosphere a bit, but RU fans know the power of a great home crowd, especially for an SEC opponent. The Arkansas matchup last season also was the site of Gary Nova's best career game, so many fans should be excited by the possibility of a repeat performance.
5. Rutgers is slated to become the 19th member of the Big Ten next year. Are ya'll going to be all snobby when you do? Because the Rutgers fans that came down for the game last year were pretty cool. Very un-B1G.
If you're looking for snobbery, look to our "friends" down I-95 in College Park, MD. Even the folks at the B1G community on SB Nation, Off Tackle Empire, think the Terps are getting a little too big for their proverbial britches.
Aside from the outliers of fans who think the Knights will tank in the B1G or will become the new OSU or Michigan, most of us believe Rutgers has a chance to be competitive for 3 to 5 conference wins most seasons. Recruiting is already getting a bump from association, so the excitement is absolutely there.
6. What might happen Saturday that would completely surprise Arkansas fans while being completely unsurprising to Rutgers fans?
Great question. I'll go with a blocked kick or two. Rutgers has led the nation in blocked kicks since 2009, even though it's no secret that the Knights love to go after the ball.
7. Finally, a score prediction, if you will. What do you envision the score being at the beginning of the fourth quarter? Who comes out victorious?
Going into the fourth, I see Arkansas leading Rutgers 17-14. In the end, Rutgers regains the lead with a score of 21-17, with a rally by the Hogs coming up short.