Sam Pittman did the unthinkable with Arkansas football in 2020: he made the Razorbacks a competitive program.
Arkansas may have finished just 3-7 on the year, but they held a halftime lead over Georgia in the opener, should have beaten Auburn (I’ll argue this until the day I die), hung with Texas A&M, nearly toppled LSU, and took Missouri down to the wire before losing 50-48.
Frankly, that 3-7 record is slightly misleading because the Razorbacks had three games that they could have easily won if bounces went the other way at the end. If Arkansas finished 6-4 instead, we might be talking about Pittman in the running for national coach of the year — that’s how bad the Razorbacks were before he got there.
In fact, he won three more SEC games in one shortened season than Chad Morris did in two years with the program.
Now it’s time to take that next step and put the hurt on some teams. Who could the Razorbacks blow out in 2021?
Disclaimer: I chose only one non-conference game and it had to be against an FBS foe.
Rice looks like a program on the rise under Mike Bloomgren after he went just 5-20 over his first two years with the Owls. He led them to a 2-3 record in 2020 with an overtime loss to Middle Tennessee, a 10-point defeat at North Texas, and just a five-point loss to UAB to end the year.
Suffice to say, Rice could have easily been a 5-1 team in 2020 and a serious threat in C-USA.
The Owls’ offense, however, is going to struggle this season much like it did last year with projected starters at quarterback, running back, and fullback all being freshmen. The offense ranked just 99th in scoring, 110th in rushing, 81st in passing, and 107th in total yardage last season. That won’t improve a ton.
Arkansas doesn’t have the best defense but it’ll get a confidence boost here to start the season against the Owls who haven’t been known to score much.
The defense was solid last season, but the Razorbacks’ offense is going to make life tough on the Owls.