How sweet is home field advantage? I’d say it’s about 60 points-ish sweet, but due to a few dropped passes (for what would’ve been touchdowns), Arkansas only hung 44 points on South Carolina last Saturday night. The win over the former No. 9 ranked BCS team moved Arkansas from No. 7 to No. 8 in the BCS standings (yes, they dropped a spot and, no, it doesn’t make sense). But forget about that, the Razorbacks are now 8-1 (4-1 in SEC play) and are still in the hunt for a second-straight BCS bowl and, maybe (perhaps, hopefully), a shot at the National Championship.
But as Coach Bobby Petrino has said, the Razorbacks need to keep a narrow focus and take one game at a time.
The game against South Carolina was the Hogs’ best overall performance of the season. Even better was that the win was against a “heralded defense,” a defense that I thought was getting a little more credit than it was worth.
All three phases of Arkansas’ game ran well enough to overcome obstacles. Despite several dropped passes and an interception, the passing game was nearly un-stoppable. Dennis Johnson moved the ball well on the ground and had an impressive kickoff return for a touchdown. Zach Hocker missed a few field goal opportunities, but had two timely kicks that helped Arkansas keep the lead in the third quarter. And the defense … after proving they still have trouble with a mobile quarterback, they came out and really attacked South Carolina. Again, they weren’t perfect, but they did end up with five sacks and four forced turnovers. Kudos to the defense for coming to play and to Coach Willy Robinson for a game plan that kept South Carolina off-balance for most of the game.
This week Arkansas takes on the Tennessee Volunteers (4-5, 0-5 in the SEC). Not only will the Hogs be playing Tennessee for the first time in four seasons, but the Razorbacks will also be saying farewell to 17 seniors who will play their last game in Fayetteville. Even more exciting is the fact that both Jarius Wright and Joe Adams will attempt to set the Arkansas Razorbacks career receptions record (the record is 153 by Anthony Eubanks, Adams has 151 and Wright has 150). And lastly, former Arkansas QB Clint Stoerner was named honorary captain for the game (let’s hope that’s not an omen).
The Volunteers began their season 3-1 before losing four straight games. Last weekend they broke their losing streak by beating up on Middle Tennessee 24-0. A big part for Tennessee’s lack of success can be contributed to several injuries — sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray is still out with a broken thumb, sophomore wide receiver Justin Hunter tore his ACL and is out for the sason, and most recently, safety Brent Brewer also tore his ACL putting him out for the season, too.
Just because Tennessee is without several playmakers, this is a game that Arkansas needs to focus on intently — that date with LSU is looking more important each week.
Offensively: The Razorbacks should find it easy to move the ball against the Volunteer defense which currently allows 156 yards on the ground per game and 186 yards in the air. Wilson should find his passing lanes open all day and could make for fun competition between Wright and Adams with their record-setting goals. Dennis Johnson could easily have another 100-yard day, but I’d like to see Ronnie Wingo or even Broderick Green get a few worthwhile touches. This game should be a cakewalk for the offense.
Defensively: Tennessee is a much different team without Bray under center. In their first four games this season, the Vols had 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Over their past five games, they have one touchdown and five interceptions. Tennessee currently averages 252 yards passing and 86 yards rushing (42nd and 118th in the country, respectively). Without much of a running game to be worried about, I expect Coach Robinson to turn loose of Jake Bequette and (the returning) Tenarius Wright. The more those two get into the backfield, the better. Like the Arkansas offense, the defense should have a fun day.
This Saturday will be Coach Petrino’s first senior class and what a wonderful four years these guys have given Arkansas. If you’re able, get out to the game and support them in their final (Fayetteville) home game. The weather looks to be great for one last time this season on the hill, and the outlook is rosy once again for the Hogs. My prediction is Arkansas 49, Tennessee 17.
Let us know what you think the final score will be. If you’re the closest (see rules below), you’ll get a free t-shirt from Bearstate Supply.
How to enter
Leave a comment with your game prediction. If you want to add anything else, please feel free.
What you’ll win
One t-shirt of your choice (design, color, size) from the Bearstate Supply online store. (Hoodies, ringers and tri-blend AA’s not included)
- You only may enter this specific contest once.
- Contests are open to anyone anywhere except staff of Fayetteville Flyer and their immediate family members.
- The winning entry must pick the winning team and have the smallest combined difference from each team’s final score. Example: If the Razorbacks win by a score of 21-7, and your prediction was Razorbacks 20-10, your difference would be 1 + 3 = 4. In the event of a tie, a winner will be selected by a random drawing.
- You must pick the score by 15 minutes before kickoff for each game.
- Make sure you leave a valid e-mail address when filling out the comment form since that’s how we’ll contact you if you’ve won.
Tennessee at Arkansas
Date: Saturday, Nov. 11, 2011
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.