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Singing the blues not a bad thing for Hogs

By: Wally Hall
Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017
Arkansas is scheduled to play Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn.
Photo by Benjamin Krain
Arkansas is scheduled to play Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn.

Usually by this time of the year, less than two weeks until the Arkansas Razorbacks' first football game, Kool-Aid has flowed and the sun seems brighter, the air crisper and predictions are positive.

This fall camp, though, there has been a lot of "We are practicing hard" and "They are playing fast."

As many as six true freshmen might play for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and that either means this was a very good recruiting class or perhaps there were some misses in previous recruiting classes. Maybe a little of both.

So, your trusty scribe has stalled in writing the annual game-by-game prediction, but now it is time. With a bit of an objective eye, here's how it seems to sum up, provided there are no injuries to major players such as Austin Allen, Frank Ragnow or others.

FLORIDA A&M

The FCS Rattlers (4-7 in 2016) are looking to improve with 15 starters back. Regardless, this shouldn't be a huge blowout. Not only is it the Razorbacks' first game, but the 7 p.m. kickoff on a Thursday night might throw off tailgating on the golf course and affect fan enthusiasm at War Memorial Stadium. Just how many people actually attend the game is a huge question, but it would be if the Rattlers were going to Fayetteville for a Thursday 7 p.m. game. Arkansas, 42-10.

TCU

The Horned Frogs return 17 starters who will want some payback after last season's 41-38 double-overtime loss that had all kinds of drama, everything from a throat-slash penalty to Dan Skipper's block of a field-goal attempt and Austin Allen's winning touchdown run. TCU, 31-28.

TEXAS A&M

Kevin Sumlin will need twice as much luck as he's had against the Hogs to win this or be back at this game next season, in Arlington, Texas. The Aggies lost 10 starters, most of them were veterans, and they start a new quarterback for the fourth consecutive season, which is a huge red flag. The Razorbacks will be coming off an open week, playing the first of 10 games in 10 weeks. Arkansas, 31-17.

NEW MEXICO STATE

The Aggies return some experience from a team that finished 3-9 last season. But Razorbacks Nation is fired up nonetheless about the Hogs 3-1 start and making plans for postseason bowl.

Arkansas, 49-3.

SOUTH CAROLINA

The Gamecocks are the SEC's surprise team and may be undefeated when Arkansas arrives in Columbia, S.C. Coach Will Muschamp has 16 starters back from a team that won four of its final six games last season, and he is out to prove his hiring was not a mistake.

South Carolina, 28-27.

ALABAMA

It seems under Nick Saban the Crimson Tide lose in Tuscaloosa about as often as we have a solar eclipse. That's an exaggeration, but he's 114-18 at Bama, 107-12 the past nine years. Only 11 starters return, but Saban's had so many top recruiting classes it doesn't matter.

Alabama, 35-24.

AUBURN

Gus Malzahn has 15 starters back from a team that beat the Hogs 56-3. It was the only game that Austin Allen didn't throw a touchdown pass in. Auburn, 35-31.

OLE MISS

If the Rebels can ignore the carnival around the program after the sudden ousting of Hugh Freeze they might be OK, but their bowl game will be against Mississippi State. This game is in Oxford, but it will be Arkansas, 38-21.

COASTAL CAROLINA

Hogs hoping for a November to remember.

Arkansas, 63-7.

LSU

The Tigers, with 11 returning starters, will be looking to bounce back from their loss to Alabama. Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is called Death Valley for a reason. LSU, 31-28 (OT).

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Bulldogs will be looking to upgrade their bowl destination, as will Arkansas. There will be more than 600 passing yards combined. Arkansas, 42-38.

MISSOURI

Payback for the Hogs. Arkansas, 56-10.

There it is: Arkansas (7-5) gets a trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, where it beats Kansas State, again.

Sports on 08/20/2017

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