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