There just isn't a pretty way of saying this, but the season we were all hoping to have is not going to happen. In fact, it appears we could be staring a worst-case scenario straight in the face.
Before last week, pretty much everybody expected the Razorbacks to be 3-0 heading into SEC play. When talking about season expectations and how many wins the team would end up with and what bowl they could go to, 3-0 was the starting point.
Arkansas will have to have a miraculous turnaround just to become bowl eligible. With two non-conference losses, the Razorbacks will have to go 4-4 in SEC play to get back to the postseason, and frankly, there's really no reason to expect that to happen.
Right now, the Razorbacks face a solid month without a home game. Arkansas only has three SEC home games because the team insists on playing in Arlington, where Texas A&M fans will undoubtedly outnumber Hog fans again. Auburn, Mississippi State, and Missouri are all possibilities the way everyone is playing right now, but who knows what any of the teams will look like that far down the line.
It probably is safe to say Arkansas is better than they showed last week against Toledo, but not enough better to say this is a good team. Sure, injuries have hampered Arkansas significantly, but most all of them have come on the offense, and the issue against Texas Tech was mainly with the defense.
The big concern going into the season was whether or not Arkansas could survive losing four NFL draft picks as well as other seniors on defense, and the answer appears to be a resounding "NO".
The Red Raiders did whatever they wanted on offense against Arkansas. The only two times the Hogs stopped them were on armpunts, and one was a desperation heave just before halftime. No situation concerned them. At one point they faced a first-and-20, they picked up 21 yards. A trick play halfback pass went for a touchdown. They did miss a field goal in garbage time.
Patrick Mahomes was 26 for 30 for 243 yards. Arkansas knew Tech was going to throw the ball, of course, and they couldn't slow the Raiders down at all. Four incompletions against an Air Raid offense won't yield happy results.
As for Arkansas' offense, the running game returned as everyone hoped it would. Alex Collins was fantastic, running for 170 yards on 28 carries. Raleigh Williams had 31 yards on eight carries, and even Brandon Allen had 22 yards on six carries. Kody Walker didn't play due to an injury suffered last week, and freshly joining him on the disabled list is receiver Jared Cornelius, who suffered a nasty, graphic arm injury in the first half.
So for those keeping track, three of Arkansas' top wide receivers are out for an extended period of time, and two of Arkansas' three top running backs are out (although we don't yet know how long Walker will be gone). That combined with the losses on defense to graduation are shaping up to be a disastrous season for Arkansas.
Arkansas matched Texas Tech score for score in the first half, and the game was tied at 21 at halftime, but it didn't last for Arkansas in the second half. The Hogs settled for a field goal late in the third quarter inside the 5-yard line, and they never had another good chance to tie or take the lead. Arkansas did drive down the field again with a chance to come back within four points, but a touchdown pass to Hunter Henry was wiped out with an offensive pass interference penalty
Allen had another chance to score anyway, but, in a play that will be widely discussed on Razorback media in the coming days, a pass to a wide open Jeremy Sprinkle fell well short. Arkansas attempted another field goal on fourth and long but missed it. That was their last chance. Otherwise, Allen was pretty solid, throwing for 16 for 21 and 196 yards and two touchdowns.
It just doesn't look good right now, you guys.