Obviously, the new football schedule for 2021 has yet to be released. However, it is never too early to at least look at a prospective schedule for next season.
Arkansas received a boost the previous two days with return announcements from senior athletes Grant Morgan and Myron Cunningham. Because of the NCAA making 2020 a “free year” for scholarship players giving them the opportunity to return to school for an extra year of eligibility. With the possibility of two more seniors returning the Hogs will bring back valuable experience going into 2021.
Arkansas will be starting a new starting quarterback next season, too. KJ Jefferson and Malik Hornsby will like you have a heated competition and quarterback. With most of the offensive starters returning the quarterback position could become a “plug and play” under offensive coordinator, Kendal Briles.
Six of the games have a date set for them and that includes the first four games of the season, the first matchup with an instate opponent with UAPB on October 23, 2021 and the Battle Line Rivalry against Missouri on November 27, 2021. Below is my projected schedule and in no way was there a good way to spread out the games. 2021 is just going to be dang tough.
Jacob’s MOCK 2021 Razorback Football Schedule
9/18: Georgia Southern
9/25: Texas A&M (AT&T Stadium)
10/2: Mississippi State
10/16: @ Alabama
10/30: @ Georgia
11/6: @ LSU
11/20: @ Ole Miss
11/27: Missouri (WMS-Little Rock)
With a non-conference tilt versus Texas at home and road games against top SEC teams LSU, Bama and UGA could be tough for Arkansas looking to go .500 in SEC play and undefeated in non-conference. There will also be the question of how tough will Ole Miss be? The Rebels return their starting quarterback, running back and wide receivers that were all sophomores in 2020.
6 wins is attainable but any more will be tough. So, we will break the schedule down into tiers since we don’t have the actual days the games will be played.
Tier 4: Georgia Southern, UAPB, Rice
The Hogs will open the season up with Rice. The Owls were tougher this season with a big upset over the 21st ranked Marshall
Thundering Herd to even their record out to 2-2 to close the season. Rice had five of their first seven games postponed. The Owls finished the season with a 21-16 loss to UAB and things look like they are on the upswing there.
Georgia Southern went 8-5 this season, too. A dominating win over La Tech in their bowl game was impressive. They had five players rush for over 400 yards and seven rush for over 200 yards this season. Their quarterback has 34 rushing TDs and 34 passing in his career. With the NCAA allowing players, especially seniors, the option to return for one more season this game could be tougher than most think.
UAPB should be no problem for the Razorbacks. It is of note as mentioned earlier that it is first matchup between the University of Arkansas and an instate program since Frank Broyles implemented an unwritten rule of no instate games.
Tier 3: Mississippi State, Missouri and Auburn
I placed Auburn in this tier because they have hired a coach that has never coached a down of SEC football. Staff hires will be key for 2022 and how the Tigers will look next season.
Mississippi State got off to a lightning fast start with a then upset of the defending national champion LSU. The very next week the Bulldogs and the Pirate, Mike Leach were introduced to the rush three, drop eight and lost to Arkansas.
Missouri and Arkansas have began a rivalry and no matter how you put it there is mutual hate between fan bases. Arkansas hasn’t won in the series since 2015 but every game has been close except the 2018 matchup.
Tier 2: LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Texas
Texas comes to town for their first match up in Fayetteville since 2004. These are two programs on different ends of the spectrum coaching wise as Tom Herman will be coaching for his job in 2021. While Sam Pittman continues to establish Arkansas as a annual bowl contender.
Ole Miss is in this tier because it won’t take long for Lane Kiffin to bring the Rebels back to a New Years Six Bowl again. This team could be a spoiler in the SEC race next season.
LSU got better as the year went on. Especially with a big upset win over Florida. All of their young talent returns back for the 2021 season. Even if the hammer comes down from the NCAA, the Tigers will likely only receive a slap on the wrist or a lack of institutional control will be applied to the program.
Texas A&M will lose their starting quarterback, running back and several other key contributors to the draft. I’ll keep them in this tier just out of respect for what Jimbo Fisher has done for the Aggie program. The game will likely come down to the wire again as the Southwest Classic returns to AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Tier 1: Alabama and Georgia
Georgia and Alabama will both be tough no matter where they will be played. Both programs have been recruiting juggernauts and have compiled quite the amount of talent to contend for championships for years to come. Nothing is impossible but Arkansas defeating either of these teams will be a longshot in year two under Coach Pittman.
Projected record: 7-5 (3-5)