I don't know if you've heard, but Arkansas has a pretty tough schedule this season. Some have even called it the toughest in the nation. The NCAA also has some cute numbers that back that statement up, but whatever. Having the toughest schedule in the nation and losing big in the season opener is the only way Arkansas fans will take their national championship.
But have you ever thought about if the Razorbacks didn't play the toughest schedule in the country? What if Arkansas swapped schedules with one of its conference opponents this season? How much differently could the season turn out?
Of course, I'm leaving out Nicholls State, NIU and UAB for obvious reasons, but once you look at opposing schedules, you find out the final verdict on Bret Bielema's second season wouldn't be much different than some folks' expectations with Arkansas' current schedule.
I broke down Arkansas' opponent's schedules and tried to come up with a possible win total. The results actually surprised me.
Arkansas playing Alabama's schedule: 4 wins – Florida Atlantic, Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State and Western Carolina. Yes, the four wins come in the first and final months of the schedule. From the East, the Tide drew games at home vs Florida and at Tennessee. I'd take the Hogs if the Vols came to The Hill.
Arkansas playing Auburn's schedule: 3 wins – San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and Samford. You may have also heard Auburn has a pretty tough schedule. The Tigers road games are pretty brutal - Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama. Not to mention they have an early season matchup in Manhattan, Kansas.
Arkansas playing LSU's schedule: 5 or 6 wins and a rematch with ULM – Sam Houston State, ULM, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Kentucky and possibly Ole Miss. The Tigers have a tough two week stretch where they travel to Auburn and Florida, but Arkansas would have a shot at a bowl with this slate.
Arkansas playing Ole Miss' schedule: 6 or 7 wins – Possibly Boise State (didn't impress me), at Vanderbilt, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Tennessee, Presbyterian and Mississippi State. Just winning the games they're supposed to gives them 7-8 wins. Arkansas could make a pretty sad bowl game with this schedule.
Arkansas playing Mississippi State's schedule: 6 wins – Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama, at Kentucky, UT-Martin and Vanderbilt. Bowl eligible once again with a different schedule. Mississippi State can go to hell for drawing Vanderbilt and Kentucky from the East.
Arkansas playing Texas A&M's schedule: 4 to 6 wins – Lamar, Rice, at SMU, Ole Miss, ULM, and either LSU or Missouri (both at home). Again, not an overly tough schedule. Arkansas just needs to win the games they're supposed to, and surprise one team in Fayetteville and they're bowl bound.
Arkansas playing Georgia's schedule: 5 to 6 wins – Troy, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, at Kentucky, Charleston and possibly Georgia Tech. I seriously hate all SEC East schools for getting to play Kentucky and Vanderbilt every season. Hogs likely bowl bound with Jawga's schedule.
Arkansas playing Missouri's schedule: 5 to 6 wins – South Dakota, at Toledo (possible trap game), UCF, Indiana, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Hoosiers like to sling it, but should be a win for Arkansas. Meanwhile, Vandy and UK sit by patiently waiting to give Arkansas its two wins in league play.
I heard Bo Mattingly and Clay Henry somewhat touch on this topic Thursday afternoon, so I'll give them credit. I thought it would be interesting to look into, and I also did not want to write about Saturday's game for my weekly column.
There truly isn't much to discuss. Arkansas will likely win very handily and pay NSU a lot of money despite those bums not bringing up any crawfish or barbecue shrimp from Pascal's Manale in NOLA. For shame on whoever drew up the game contract.
Writing about hypotheticals is much more fun than talking about what an SEC team has to do to beat a team that gave up 539 yards rushing to Air Force, wouldn't you agree? But ultimately, Arkansas has to work with the difficult schedule it was unfortunately dealt.
However, you are sadly mistaken if you don't think we aren't all going to hug, kiss, do other inappropriate things and embrace the current schedule. Just gotta live with it.
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