Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Second-half outlook: Arkansas
By Chris Low
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
The toughest part of Arkansas’ schedule is over. The Razorbacks were blown out by Alabama and took Florida to the wire before Tim Tebow and some lousy calls by the officials beat them last week. Now we see if Bobby Petrino’s club can build off that performance. Quarterback Ryan Mallett should be even better the second half of the season now that he has the speed of SEC defenses down. It would also be nice if the Hogs could get everybody back out there offensively from injuries, including running back Michael Smith and receiver Joe Adams. The defensive improvement really makes for what should be a promising close to the season. The swing game is this week at Ole Miss. If the Hogs can get past the Rebels, four of their final five games are at home, and they will be favored in all four games.
Best-case scenario: Mallett keeps setting passing records. Everybody gets healthy on offense, and the defense just keeps improving. The Hogs flirt with a clean sweep during the second half, winning five of their last six games, and finish 8-4 in the regular season and play in the Cotton Bowl.
Worst-case scenario: Arkansas doesn’t regroup emotionally from that Florida loss and loses its second straight this week at Ole Miss. Mallett hits the wall down the stretch, and the defense isn’t good enough to bail the Hogs out. They also end up losing to South Carolina and LSU, finishing 6-6 overall and 2-6 in the conference.
Prediction: The Hogs go 4-2 in the second half of the season, good enough for a 7-5 record, and Petrino gets to go back to Atlanta for a date in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.