7 things to note about Arkansas' 2018 schedule

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Arkansas fans wait for the kickoff of a game against Georgia on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Photo by Benjamin Krain
Arkansas fans wait for the kickoff of a game against Georgia on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

What's in a schedule? Actually, there is a lot if you pay attention.

Here are some observations about the Razorbacks' almost-finished 2018 football slate:

Little Rock's Last Hurrah?

There is a little more suspense to the Arkansas, War Memorial Stadium saga.

The Razorbacks have yet to pick an opponent for their game in Little Rock next season - the final contracted game between Arkansas and War Memorial Stadium. It is the first schedule release in recent memory that has not stipulated which games were to be played in Little Rock.

The 2018 game must be against an SEC opponent and with home games against Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU, many assumed Vanderbilt would be the logical choice to play at War Memorial Stadium, a smaller venue that has played host to increasingly less notable games in recent years. Arkansas' last three opponents there have been Toledo and FCS teams Alcorn State and Florida A&M.

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2018 Football Schedule

A spokesman offered no timetable on a decision about next year's Little Rock designation. One could assume it might come after UA trustees decide the fate of Arkansas' games at War Memorial Stadium, a decision athletics director Jeff Long said he hoped would come before the end of this season.

Southwest Classic Tweak

Since Arkansas and Texas A&M renewed their series in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, the game has been played the fourth Saturday in September each year.

But in 2018 the game has been pushed back to the fifth weekend of September. Instead, the Razorbacks' fourth game will be at Auburn - the SEC opener for both teams.

It will be the first time since 2014 that Arkansas won't begin its SEC schedule with a game against the Aggies

While neutral, the 2018 game in Arlington is considered a road game for Arkansas from a scheduling standpoint, meaning the Razorbacks will have four SEC games at home.

Home Stretch

Following the Southwest Classic, the Razorbacks will go six consecutive weekends without leaving the state of Arkansas.

The Razorbacks will play five consecutive home games against Alabama, Ole Miss, Tulsa, Vanderbilt and LSU beginning Oct. 6, 2018. The team will be off the week between the Vanderbilt and LSU games.

That's the longest stretch of games in Arkansas since the Razorbacks opened the 2000 season with five consecutive games in the state, including the first two in Little Rock. The last time Arkansas played four straight conference home games was 1983 when the Razorbacks were a member of the Southwest Conference.

Arkansas will go nearly two months between true road games at Auburn on Sept. 22 and Mississippi State on Nov. 17.

Tulsa Timing

Most of Arkansas' nonconference games are played early in the season, but later in the year appears to be the best fit when it comes to Tulsa.

The Razorbacks are scheduled to host the Golden Hurricane on Oct. 20, 2018 - Arkansas' eighth game of the season.

It is the third meeting between the programs that will take place late in the year. Tulsa's 2008 and 2012 games at Arkansas were played in November.

Better Bye

Arkansas has a slightly better open date than in 2017.

The Razorbacks are scheduled to play nine games before and three games after the Nov. 3 open date in 2018, as opposed to two games before and 10 after the bye this season.

Open dates are decided by the SEC office in coordination with teams' nonconference games that are typically scheduled two or more years in advance.

The number of open dates is determined by the number of Saturdays between Labor Day weekend and the first weekend in December. Teams should have multiple open dates in 2019 for the first time in five seasons.

Season-Ending Road Swing

Like in 2016, Arkansas will play consecutive road games at Mississippi State and Missouri to end the 2018 season.

It will be the fourth consecutive year that Arkansas will play those teams to end the season. The Missouri game is set as the Razorbacks' last each regular season, but the Mississippi State game has rotated to various November weekends throughout Arkansas' years in the SEC.

A determination is made each May whether Arkansas will play its regular-season finale on the day after Thanksgiving.

Michigan Replacements

Two teams are serving as replacements to fill the void left when Michigan backed out last summer of a series that was scheduled to begin in 2018.

Eastern Illinois took the Sept. 1 date that was originally reserved for the Razorbacks' game in Ann Arbor, Mich., while a Sept. 8 trip to Colorado State satisfied an SEC scheduling requirement.

Colorado State is a member of the Mountain West Conference, but SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced earlier this year that he would allow the Razorbacks an exemption to the league's rule that all members must play a nonconference game against a member of another Power 5 conference, Notre Dame, BYU or an armed service academy.

Arkansas previously had scheduled a 2019 game against Colorado State that will be played in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks also will receive a scheduling waiver that year from the SEC.

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