If 2010 is to be a magical season, the stretch-run is undoubtedly November as it was in 2006 when they won the West Division title. And, as usual, they will have to win some games on the road in November to have a chance at the SEC West. Road trips to Columbia, SC and Starkville, MS should be hard-fought contests. The Hogs get a non-conference “change-up” game when UTEP comes to town and thy finish it off with the annual “Battle for the Boot” against LSU in Little Rock. Will there be enough W’s for the Hogs to make it to Atlanta?
November 6, at South Carolina
The Razorbacks have faired pretty well lately against the “Ole Ball-coach,” Steve Spurrior, having won three out of the past four games. However, Razorback fans should not underestimate this South Carolina team. The Gamecocks return 16 starters from last year’s bowl team, and among those returning is uber talented Stephen Garcia. If Spurrior can get him playing like he likes, and Garcia stays consistent, not even a toucdown-saving tackle from an SEC official could derail success.
November 13, University of Texas-El Paso
What you need to know about the UTEP Miners is that Trevor Vittatoe is their Senior quarterback. Whether or not that translates in to wins for UTEP is another question. The 6-foot-2 220 pound Senior from Bedford, TX is poised to become the leading passer in UTEP history if his receivers can catch his passes. Fortunately for UTEP, three of their four leading receivers return, seven total starters on Offense. The defense just returns five. The Conference USA division titles may be decided by this game, so it is unclear what the Miners will be playing for.
November 20, at Mississippi State
Starkville, MS is home of the cowbells. Fans ring them blamed cowbells all game long. The Bulldogs return 14 of 22 starters from a year ago, but they get the Hogs sandwiched between highly intense road games at Alabama and Ole Miss. The Hogs usually struggle to win in Starkville, but there just might be too much on the MSU plate as the Hogs come off the UTEP game with momentum.
November 27, LSU in Little Rock
The Bengal Tigers are not getting much love from the pre-season prognosticators this year. It seems that over the past few years that the talent level has dwindled since the Nick Saban years. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson will lead an offense that returns six starters while the defense only returns four. No doubt, Les Miles will have plenty of athleticism on defense. Fortunately for those in the SEC and Arkansas, return specialist Trindon Holliday is gone.
If the Hogs get some breaks and win the winnable games, they could end up playing for the SEC title in Atlanta. However, every game in the rugged SEC is tough, and the Hogs will need to be ready for every single team. Many people are pointing to this year as a special year, but in reality, if Mallett returns for his Senior season, 2011 should set up as the season with the most potential.
Photo Credit: Rice Hog