Don’t Let One of Hogs’ Biggest Wins of Offseason Seduce You

Taylen Green, Arkansas football
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

Being an Arkansas football fan doesn’t seem any harder nowadays than it was about the time I stopped in 2012. The Razorbacks, the only team that truly matters in the entire state – much to the chagrin of Arkansas State, the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Memphis Grizzlies or Oklahoma City Thunder – have been bad at the most popular sport in America for more than 40 years.

“Bad” is, of course, a relative term since Arkansas is still a public school in the Southeastern Conference that has a lot more money than 80% of the rest of FBS. 

That’s not the comparison point. The comparison point is against the Hogs’ contemporaries, their fellow SECers and to that end, Arkansas is bad at football. Like, worst-in-the-entire-conference-except-for-the-private-school-in-Nashville-that-so dominates-UoA-in-academics-that-even-then-Vanderbilt-is-superior bad.

A small glimmer of hope peeks, and peaks, its head every spring, just about. The perpetually optimistic are convinced this is the year ‘them boys’ turn it around. The “You seen that ol’ guy from Boise? Damn. Hell of a lot better than KJ.” Enter a 6-6 season. Sometimes better. Sometimes worse. Two, three SEC wins sounds about right.

Hope Rests in the Hogs’ Schedule

Such hope exists right now, perhaps as strong as it’s been in almost 20 years thanks to the Razorbacks’ schedule that suddenly looks a lot lighter. “Looks” being the key word there. 

Arkansas and Alabama won’t play on the football field for the first time since 1991, the year before the Hogs joined the conference.

That wind you feel is just exhalation. 

Alabama has straight owned the series, currently in the midst of a 17-year winning streak that has seen Arkansas come within single digits a grand total of five times. Also missing from the Hogs’ slate: Georgia, the next most powerful team in the league over the course of the last half decade. Avoiding those two opponents, on the surface, feels like one of Arkansas’ biggest wins of the offseason.

Talk to Gary from Clarksville and he’ll tell you with that kind of schedule, Taylen Green, everyone back at wide receiver, a Top-30 pass defense, Landon Jackson and Bobby Petrino, Arkansas might get that 10-win season. 

Facetious, obviously. 

But take note when July or August rolls around and the bloggers who cover the Razorbacks start making their season picks. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any of them picking fewer than seven wins.

In some ways, it makes all the sense in the world. The Arkansas media is largely populated by – surprise! – Arkansas fans. Some of them feign objectivity. Some are legitimate about it. 

But, by and large, the people who are paid to sit in the press box on Saturdays would be watching the Razorbacks game at home, anyway, if they were a post-office worker or a mechanic or insurance salesman or whatever. 

Hell, a good quarter of the men and women who sit high atop Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturdays in the fall openly root for the home team aloud, if quiet enough to avoid the wrath that may come from breaking quite literally spoken “no cheering in the press box” rule. Human nature is to want the best for our preferred people.

A Harsh Reality for Arkansas Football

It’s also just a bit insane, that belief Arkansas will somehow exert itself into a national power. Even with Alabama and Georgia off the schedule, Arkansas is likely to play at least two, maybe even four, top-10 teams in the country in 2024.

It could even go up against the No. 1 team again, considering Texas, Ole Miss, LSU and Missouri are all going to be highly-ranked when the polls are released later this summer. That’s just par for the course for the Razorbacks, who have played 27 games against teams ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll.

Twenty-seven. If it seems like a lot, that’s because it is. No other school in the country – not a single one – has played the top-ranked team in the nation more than Arkansas. The Hogs’ record in such games? 

They’re 4-23 against a whole lot of Alabama and Texas stretching over the decades. That clip isn’t the worst winning percentage among FBS teams of all time, but, whew. With that many tries, tossing in the SEC’s depth on top of it, too, expectations for double-digit-win seasons on the regular is truly absurd.

Sure, some fans try to pretend things will be better in the future. Some have become so burnt by years of such outcomes, they’re husks, emotionless except for occasional bouts of anger and jealousy.

Ten wins isn’t elite in college football, but it’s on the cusp. The Razorbacks have three 10-win seasons since joining the SEC. Meanwhile one-win conference seasons are the pits; little is more embarrassing in the entire sport. Arkansas has four seasons with one league win or fewer. 

One winning SEC season in the last 13 years is not the stuff of a powerhouse football program. It’s the sign of a program that needs any small victory it can get, including getting Alabama and/or Georgia off the football schedule. 

But long-term, it’s a flash in the pan. Little is helped by the addition of the Longhorns and occasionally the Sooners into the possible fray in league play and eventually Alabama and Georgia will come back around. The FanDuel Odds Arkansas joins the ranks of the middle-of-the-pack in the SEC just became longer.

Maybe, you won’t abandon your fandom like I did, I’m sure. Maybe you’re a real fan, true. You bleed, er, red. But it isn’t the losing that made me drop it. 

It was seeing how all of it works from the catbird seat, becoming a journalist. I didn’t like what I saw anymore when I moved back. But based on the Hogs’ previous results, maybe I was just like you, never really liking what I saw, but preferring my fantasy world of pretending.

Most Games vs. AP No. 1

TeamGames vs. AP No. 1Record vs. AP No. 1
1. Arkansas274-23 (.148)
1. Notre Dame279-17-1 (.352)
3. Oklahoma257-16-2 (.320)
4. Michigan213-17-1 (.167)
5. Wisconsin204-16 (.200)
5. USC207-13 (.350)
5. Texas A&M203-17 (.150)
5. Kentucky203-17 (.150)
9. Northwestern191-18 (.053)
9. Minnesota193-16 (.158)
9. LSU192-16-1 (.132)
9. Florida193-16 (.158)
Source: BoAS research using data from list of every game involving the AP No. 1 team on College Poll Archive.


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