CFT preseason No. 13: Arkansas


2010 record: 10-3, 6-2 (T-2nd SEC West)

2010 bowl: 31-26 loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl

2010 final AP/coaches’ ranking: 12th/12th

Coach: Bobby Petrino, fourth year; 23-14 overall, 11-13 conference

Offensive coordinator: Garrick McGee, second year

2010 offensive rankings: 17th, scoring offense (36.5 ppg); 9th, total offense (482.5 ypg); 69th, rushing offense (148.9 ypg); fourth, passing offense (333.7 ypg)

Defensive coordinator: Willy Robinson, fourth year

2010 defensive rankings: 47th, scoring defense (23.4 ppg); 36th, total defense (347.9 ypg); 71st, rushing defense (162.6 ypg); 20th, passing defense (185.3 ypg)

Returning offensive starters: 6

Returning defensive starters: 7

Location: Fayetteville, Ark.

Stadium: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (turf; 72,000)

Last league title: 1989

2011 schedule: [view]

2011 roster: [view]

2010 statistics: [view]

Snapshot: The good news for Bobby Petrino’s Razorbacks is they return more than half of their starters from a team that won 10 games and finished second in the toughest division in the toughest conference in college football. The bad news for the Hogs is they’re still in the same division this year, with the added “bonus” of being treated to road trips to both Alabama and LSU in 2011. If your goal is to win the conference, that wouldn’t exactly be described as an optimum schedule.

Oh, and the season-ending ankle injury suffered by star running back Knile Davis on Aug. 11 certainly doesn’t help. (NOTE: This pick was made before Davis’ injury)

Even without Davis, however, it’s not like the Razorbacks will go into the season with a bunch of Little Sisters of the Poor graduates in tow. No, what was a top-five SEC defense in 2010 will likely be even better given the level of experience and the amount of talent returning, and should be the strength of the team. There were some losses on offense that could force the defense to do even more of the heavy lifting, especially at the start of the season. Tyler Wilson will replace Ryan Mallett as the starter at quarterback; an All-American tight end and three-fifths of the offensive line will need to be replaced as well. Fortunately for Wilson, he will have at his disposal the deepest and most talented corps of wide receivers you’ll find anywhere in the country.

Make-or-break game: Sept. 24 at Alabama

The Razorbacks weren’t able to come away with a win — at home, no less — against an Alabama squad that was down last year. What makes anyone think that the outcome will be any different when, one, they’ll be playing in Tuscaloosa and, two, they’ll be facing a team that will likely be a consensus No. 1-2 to start the season? There are no guarantees either way as it’s a different year with a different cast of characters, but the performance, almost regardless of the outcome, could serve as an early season heat check and a barometer for the remaining eight games.

Heisman hopeful: None, now that Davis is gone.

Postseason projection: Capital One Bowl

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

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USC makes hiring of Virginia’s Vic So’oto official

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The massive renovation of Clay Helton’s USC football coaching staff has taken another official step.

Last week, it was reported that USC was expected to poach Vic So’oto from Virginia.  As Clint Sintim‘s hiring as So’oto’s replacement was announced a few days later, the latter’s move to the Trojans was a mere formality.

Tuesday, USC football confirmed So’oto’s addition to Clay Helton’s staff.  As he did with the ‘Hoos, So’oto will serve as the Trojans’ defensive line coach.

The 32-year-old So’oto was the line coach at Virginia for the past three seasons.  Prior to that, he was a defensive graduate assistant at the ACC program.

So’oto played his college football at BYU, ending his four-year career in 2010.  After his NFL career ended, So’oto began his collegiate coaching career as a football intern at his alma mater.

For those unaware, So’oto is the second cousin of USC football legend Junior Seau.

LSU confirms hiring of Scott Linehan as new passing-game coordinator

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LSU football has officially replaced one of the hottest young coaches in the sport.

Not long after LSU football claimed the 2019 national championship, Joe Brady left to take over as the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Earlier this month, it was reported that Scott Linehan was expected to be hired as Brady’s successor.

Tuesday, LSU confirmed that Linehan has indeed been named by Ed Orgeron as the Tigers’ new passing-game coordinator. The 56-year-old Linehan has spent the past 17 seasons he’s been a coach at the NFL level.

Linehan was out of coaching this past season.

“Scott brings a wealth of knowledge to our offense,” the LSU football head coach said in a statement. “We wanted to bring in someone who will expand our passing game and with Scott’s experience as an NFL head coach and offensive coordinator we feel this is the best move for our offense. After talking to numerous people with NFL experience and interviewing Scott we knew he was the right fit for the LSU Tigers.”

In 13 of those seasons in the NFL, Linehan served as an offensive coordinator.

  • Dallas Cowboys, 2015-18
  • Detroit Lions, 2009-13
  • Miami Dolphins, 2005
  • Minnesota Vikings, 2002-04

In the other four NFL seasons in which he wasn’t a coordinator, Linehan was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams (2006-08) and passing-game coordinator for the Cowboys (2014).

Linehan’s last job at the collegiate level came as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Louisville (1999-2001). From 1996-98, he was the coordinator at Washington.

American announces 2020 schedule

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The American Athletic Conference will again play football in 2020, the conference confirmed on Tuesday.

The American revealed its 2020 conference schedule, a 44-game slate that completes the 88 total games AAC teams will play in 2020. As a reminder, UConn is no longer an American member, meaning the conference will have 11 football-playing members for the foreseeable future. All 11 teams will still play an 8-game league schedule, and the conference will still hold a title game.

The 2020 season will also be the conference’s first under the new rights agreement it struck with ESPN in March. As such, at least 40 American home games will be shown on the ESPN family of networks, and at least half of those will be on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The conference will play a total of 12 games on Thursday or Friday nights.

“We are excited to announce our 2020 schedule as we enter the next phase of our longstanding relationship with ESPN,” said commissioner Mike Aresco. “With the continued success our schools have had, I have no doubt that we will once again provide our fans, and ESPN, with compelling matchups throughout the season in both conference and nonconference play. We look forward to another outstanding season of American Athletic Conference football.”

The season will begin on Saturday, Aug. 29 when Navy “hosts” Notre Dame at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. That game will be shown on ESPN with College GameDay in tow as part of the network’s season kick-off effort. While the full schedule can be viewed here, highlights include:

  • North Carolina at UCF, Sept. 4 (Friday)
  • South Florida at Texas, Sept. 5
  • Temple at Miami, Sept. 5
  • Houston at Washington State, Sept. 12
  • Cincinnati at Nebraska, Sept. 26
  • TCU at SMU, Sept. 26
  • Memphis at SMU, Oct. 1 (Thursday)
  • UCF at Memphis, Oct. 16 (Friday)
  • Memphis at Cincinnati, Oct. 31
  • Memphis at Navy, Nov. 14
  • Cincinnati at UCF, Nov. 21
  • UCF at South Florida, Nov. 27 (Friday)

The 2020 American season will conclude with the sixth annual American Championship on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Ohio State CB Sevyn Banks to wear No. 7

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George Costanza was never much of a college football fan. He was a New Yorker, after all. But he was a fan of the No. 7, and so he would have a new favorite college football player in 2020.

A product of Orlando’s Jones High School, Sevyn Banks has been a member of Ohio State’s defensive backfield since 2018. The former 4-star recruit has received limited playing time in the Buckeyes’ loaded defensive backfield, but figures to compete for a starting spot in 2020.

And now he’ll do so in his namesake number.

Banks announced Monday he will switch from No. 12 to No. 7 for the upcoming season.

The No. 7 had been claimed by linebacker Teradja Mitchell, who is now switching to No. 3, opening No. 7 for, well, Sevyn.

Banks appeared in all 14 games for Ohio State last season, collecting 11 tackles and one interception.

He’ll hope to get more burn in 2020, with some support from a fictional New Yorker.