As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up first: Arkansas.
2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC)
Final AP ranking: 5
In 2011, the Arkansas Razorbacks entered the season as a dark horse candidate to win the SEC. Alabama and LSU were the class of the league, but many believed that Bobby Petrino and the Hogs could pull off an upset or two and represent the SEC West in Atlanta. Things didn’t exactly work out as they hoped in Fayetteville, but Arkansas still finished with a respectable 11-2 record, with its only losses coming to the Tide and Tigers.
Alabama gave Arkansas a pretty good beating in Tuscaloosa, winning 38-14, and despite the 41-17 final score, the Razorbacks had a fighting chance against LSU. Arkansas jumped out to a 14-0 lead, only to give it right back to LSU and never fight back.
Arkansas finished its season with a 29-16 win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
Key returning starters: QB Tyler Wilson, RB Knile Davis, LB Alonzo Highsmith
2012 outlook: Arkansas could be really good or really bad in 2012. There are obviously a lot of questions surrounding the head coaching position after Bobby Petrino was dismissed in the offseason and John L. Smith was brought in to replace him.
The Razorbacks could rally around Smith and use the offensive talent they have on their roster to make a run at the SEC West – Arkansas gets Alabama and LSU at home this year – or they could let the distractions get the best of them and lose five or six games. The talent is certainly there, it’s just going to come down to whether Smith can get his players to play focused, determined football. I’ll predict the Hogs to finish 9-4 with a bowl victory.
Key games in 2012:
- September 15 vs. Alabama
- November 10 @ South Carolina
- November 23 vs. LSU
Key matchups vs. Alabama (9-15 @ Arkansas)
- Tyler Wilson vs. Alabama secondary: Even though Arkansas lost a lot of talent at wide receiver (Joe Adams and Greg Childs), the Razorback passing attack will still be a formidable one, led by one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC in Tyler Wilson. Alabama returns only Robert Lester and Dee Milliner in the secondary, so it will be up to inexperienced guys like Travell Dixon, Deion Belue and Vinnie Sunseri to step up early.
- Knile Davis vs. Alabama front seven: Davis missed the 2011 season with an ankle injury, but is looking to have a breakout year in 2012. He showed flashes of brilliance at the end of 2010 and could be one of the SEC’s top running backs in 2012 if he returns to form. Alabama will need to stop the run if it wants to have a chance on September 15th.
Filed Under: Around the Country