Arkansas football has to be one of the best early season stories out of the SEC. After an abbreviated 2020 season under first year head coach Sam Pittman gave Razorback fans some reasons for hope, they’ve stormed out to a 3-0 start in 2021.
The Razorbacks beat Rice 38-17 in Week 1, and are coming off of a 45-10 win over Georgia Southern. In between, the team scored a true statement win, blasting Texas 40-21.
If Arkansas is for real, we’re going to find out very soon. The team enters Week 14 ranked No. 16 in the AP poll, the program’s highest rank since Oct. 2016. Their next four opponents: No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 2 Georgia, No. 13 Ole Miss, No. 23 Auburn.
On Tuesday’s edition of College Football Live, David Pollack was asked if the Razorbacks could conceivably get to nine wins this season, which would require a 6-3 finish. In the words of his ESPN colleague Lee Corso, Pollack gave them the proverbial “not so fast my friend.”
“I’m giving Arkansas (wins vs.) Arkansas Pine Bluff and Missouri. They’re 5-0, so alright kids play along. They need four of these, listen to this: Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Auburn, LSU, A&M. I need four of those to get to nine? No way.
“If they beat LSU, that’s a heck of a season. If they give Ole Miss a scare with a rebuilt defense, I don’t see it. I see Arkansas…again, this is positive for them going in the right direction with Sam Pittman, but ain’t no way in heck they’re getting to nine.”
Paul Finebaum raised a similar point when discussing the Razorbacks on SEC Nation this week.
“Let’s take a chill pill about Arkansas. Yeah, I mean, I’m on the train, or whatever bus, or scooter, or whatever it is. But A&M, Georgia, Ole Miss, Auburn, there’s Alabama. Let’s just wait a second, because next week is critical. You’ve got Arkansas and Texas A&M, and that has just been a terrible experience for the Razorbacks. Every year they come close, they’re on the goal line, they lose. There’s another game next week that I think is also very important — LSU and Mississippi State. We’re going to start weeding out some of the contenders, but not today. And what I just got to hearing here, where can I get a hog hat?”
Pittman has brought the program to a level that few would’ve guessed in just year two, after they absolutely bottomed out at the end of the Bret Bielema era, and failed to win an SEC game in two years under Chad Morris. 6-6 in year two would be a major accomplishment in the brutal SEC.
At the same time, it would be pretty naturally disappointing for many Arkansas football fans if the team was No. 16 after a 3-0 start, and then slide to a 2-7 or even 3-6 finish. If that happens, hopefully everyone stays engaged, because Pittman is doing a miraculous job, even if it isn’t all going to reach its apex in 2021.