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Laura Rutledge Names Her 'Surprise' Team Pick In The SEC

espn's laura rutledge on sideline during an SEC game

The SEC rolled out its new schedule for the 2020 season on Monday. There is no 10-game SEC schedule that is easy, but Arkansas football could be in for a rough year, with Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, and Texas A&M all on the slate.

It wouldn't be a huge surprise if Arkansas, which is once again mired in a deep rebuild with a new coach, failed to win a game this fall. Chad Morris went just 4-18 with the Razorbacks, giving way to Sam Pittman, who takes over one of the toughest Power Five jobs. New odds put Arkansas' over/under at just 2.5 wins for the year.

SEC Network's Laura Rutledge is buying low on the Razorbacks though. During a recent SEC Now appearance, she named Arkansas as her "surprise team" for the coming season. She argues that expectations are so low, that if Pittman shows a bit of progress in his first year, it can be taken as a great sign.

"Bear with me, because I know people are going to say 'They added Florida and Georgia to their schedule, what are you talking about?' And they haven't won an SEC game since 2017. But I think that's why it's a surprise," Rutledge said. "It can only go up from here for Arkansas."

She is also high on Pittman as a new coach. He wasn't the splashiest SEC hire, in a year where the Mississippi schools brought in Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach, but she thinks the former Georgia offensive line coach will have his team ready for that Week 1 showdown with the Dawgs.

“I like Sam Pittman a lot, and I think the fact that (former Missouri head coach) Barry Odom is their defensive coordinator is huge, maybe overlooked a little bit, too. Then they’ve got Feleipe Franks, who, by the way, is going to be super motivated for that Florida game, if he does, in fact, win the starting quarterback job. And Sam Pittman, Game 1 against Georgia, really familiar with those Bulldogs.”

It will be hard to hold much against Pittman this year, given the circumstances. If he does manage to win a few games, which would be the school's first SEC wins in years as Rutledge mentioned, it would be a real step in the right direction for the Arkansas football program.