Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 15, 2012
This is the 14th in our series of 30 Thoughts on Razorback Football in 30 Days.
Aside from the off-the-field turmoil that plagued Arkansas during the offseason, the fact that both Alabama and LSU visit Fayetteville this season dominated much of the discussion. With an experienced team coming back to The Hill, many Hog fans see this as a favorable schedule for Arkansas to make a run to the SEC and BCS titles. Common thought suggests that having these games played in the Natural State gives Arkansas a distinct advantage to win its first division title since 2006. But is conventional wisdom right? History tells us that may not be the case.
To start, Arkansas has not beaten both SEC West heavyweights in the same season since 2000. Arkansas split the two games en route to division titles in 2002 and 2006. While none of the three teams appear as talented in those seasons as the squads that will hit the field in 2012, assuming Arkansas has a far better chance of success beating both this year may not be the safest assumption to make.
There are signs of optimism, though. Among other things, no one in his or her right mind would prefer to play these two behemoths on the road. Arkansas was swept on the road by LSU and Bama in 2005, 2009 and again last year. If Arkansas hopes to make a run to Atlanta this season, they must at minimum split the two games. Getting both in Arkansas certainly improves their chances. A regular season-capping win over LSU in 2010 sent the Hogs to the Sugar Bowl. All things being equal, winning one and losing one against these two teams should put the Razorbacks in great position to return to a BCS game.
Given all the turmoil of the offseason, reaching the BCS would be a tremendous accomplishment. This team believes it has a greater destiny, though, and lining up with the Tide and the Tigers in Fayetteville gives Arkansas its best chance of sweeping both teams for the first time since Bill Clinton occupied the White House. In this case, home field is less the advantage as playing on the road is a disadvantage.
It will be a good season if…
Arkansas manages to prove the critics wrong and beat both Alabama and LSU this year. A split gives Arkansas a chance to do something special, but winning both means an almost certain trip to Atlanta.
It will be a bad season if…
Arkansas once again fails to capitalize on its good fortune of getting both teams in the Natural State. Losing both games means this talented crop of Razorbacks will have once again missed its chance to reach its full potential.