Friday, July 26, 2013
Countdown to SEC kickoff: 34 days
By Chris Low
Bret Bielema won the last three Big Ten championships at Wisconsin, but has traded the Big Ten for the SEC and will take his shot at leading Arkansas to similar heights in a league that has produced the national champion each of the last seven years.
He has his work cut out this first season with a schedule that is downright wicked. The number of the day: 50.
The Hogs have five road games in 2013, all against teams that won nine or more games last season. In fact, if you count up the win total of those five teams from a year ago, it comes out to 50. Included in that road slate are trips to Rutgers (Sept. 21), Florida (Oct. 5), Alabama (Oct. 19), Ole Miss (Nov. 9) and LSU (Nov. 29). Florida, Alabama and LSU will start this season ranked in the top 12 nationally, and the Crimson Tide have won three of the past four national championships. Not only that, but Bielema also faces off against preseason top-10 foes South Carolina and Texas A&M at home. There’s nothing quite like diving right into the fire in your first season in the SEC. The Hogs’ league schedule, at least on paper, appears to be one of the toughest anybody has faced in recent years. That four-week gauntlet of Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama is beyond brutal. But, then, Bielema insists he knew precisely what he was getting into when he made the jump to the SEC. “If you truly watch college football and see the teams, the schedule, the format and how it all goes down, if you can win in the SEC, then you’re truly winning at the highest level possible. That’s why I’m here,” Bielema said.