Fight the meme: Arkansas, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Well, at the least the college football blogosphere is starting to question all the preseason love directed the Hogs’ way.

Here’s Matt Hinton’s take on the lofty rankings Arkansas is garnering on preseason Top 25 lists, for example:

… In every case, those positions also establish Arkansas as the No. 3 team in the SEC, behind only Alabama and Florida – even according to Staples, who declines to rank Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina or Tennessee at all – and thus the odds-on favorite to challenge the Gator-Tide duopoly at the top of the conference. Relative to the SEC standings, that’s nearly unprecedented: The preseason consensus has only pegged the Hogs higher than third in the West Division once (in 1999) since they joined the league in 1992. In other words, this outfit will be expected to at least match (and possibly exceed) the best seasons in the school’s SEC era.

That being said, Matt’s actually pretty sanguine about Arkansas’ chances this season.  Not so Brian Cook, who looks at the Razorbacks and sees this year’s Ole Miss.

… This year’s Ole Miss, at least as far as upstart SEC programs getting “this ballot isn’t last year’s ballot” votes in a lot of preseason polls, is Arkansas. The Razorbacks have the touted junior-to-be quarterback that NFL teams are supposedly drooling over (although in Ryan Mallett’s case his close resemblance to an artillery weapon will see him, you know, drafted, even if he has a Snead-like addiction to living dangerously), the season-ending push, and the bowl win. Well… sort of. Arkansas’s bowl win was not over a one-loss top five team but East Carolina, and the season-ending explosion came against Eastern Michigan, South Carolina, Troy, Mississippi State, and LSU, with the LSU game that finished the regular season an actual loss. But by God, Ryan Mallett can throw it through a wall.

He then slides into the regression to the mean/turnover margin discussion that Jerry Hinnen and I have engaged in this week, and concludes with this:

… Arkansas, obviously, bounced up a whopping 22 turnovers [Ed. - I think it's 24.] and will now be sliding back into the back, in all likelihood. Having a veteran quarterback will help, but not enough to keep that turnover margin at 15. The Tebow child returned this year for Florida and the Gators’ margin plummeted from +22 to +7.

Arkansas this year is likely to be Arkansas last year: wildly erratic, capable of beating anyone in the league, capable of losing to anyone. On the other hand, may I turn your attention to Georgia?

What he’s hinting at the end there, Dawg fans, is something Jerry noted (which I copied as an update in my earlier post that probably was passed over and bears repeating now).

… Here’s what jumps out at me: from ‘02 to ‘08 eight teams had margins greater than or equal to either +15 or  -15, and seven of those saw their margin swing by a minimum of 13 turnovers the following season. (2003 MSU is the sole exception.) Average swing for those seven teams? 16.4.

This would seem to indicate that Alabama may have a tougher time repeating than expected, and that Arkansas–hey, they were +15 last year, whaddya know–may also have a hard time living up to the hype.

On the flip side of that, how good a year do you think 2010 can be for Georgia if it merely breaks even on turnovers?

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15 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, The Blogosphere

15 responses to “Fight the meme: Arkansas, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

  1. thewhiteshark

    And therein lies the silver lining. A -16 turnover margin is brutal. Finishing 8-5 doesn’t seem so bad with that kind of margin along with the other defensive issues, penalties and kickoff coverage problems. I’m an optimist so I think the Dawgs are on their way to fixing the problems.

    Arkansas will be interesting, but history says you got to play defense in the SEC. They just don’t have enough on that side of the ball.

  2. It’s pretty clear that Nebraska and Arkansas are this year’s Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. NU is a good team that is somehow predicted to get much better despite the loss of a defensive player so good he almost won the Heisman, while Arkansas was a good-but-semi-lucky team who is predicted to get better despite a regression in luck. It’s looking like our Outsiders projections will have them both in the #16-20 range, which is perfectly respectable…and much lower than most others will have them.

  3. Macallanlover

    I don’t get the furor over Arky’s pre-season ranking. This is all speculation that in the past has generally proven to be unreliable, and none of it means squat. I can understand the opinions both ways.

    The defensive questions are legit, but so is the chance Arky can play anyone on a given day and may be the best challenge to Bama. Would I bet them to win the West? Not a chance, but I can see them being 2nd and playing a role in who wins bothe East and the West.

    I feel Mallet is a legit pro prospect that can hurt you if given time to set and throw. I also see the inconsistency when he is pressured. He certainly looks better to me then Jevan Snead did this lat year and no one questioned him being a Heisman candidate and leading Old Miss to an SEC title. That didn’t work out very well, and this may not work for Arkansas in 2010 but why the outcry? I can see them and LSU as being pretty equal.

    I personally hope they ride into Sanford as a Top 10 team and give UGA a focus for the game, and a chance to enhance our own reputation.

    • Again, it’s not Arkansas’ ranking that bugs me, it’s the lack of consistency in ranking them highly while passing on Georgia and Auburn (which virtually every pundit does).

      By the way, if you’re looking for a rampant case of PH™ for the Hogs, it’s hard to beat this message board thread.

      • What also jumps out to me is the wild extremes in Mallett’s game. His completion percentage versus LSU/Bama/Ole Miss/Florida was 39%.

        I mean, you would expect it to drop SOME versus those defenses, but that’s a pretty wide swing. He’s going to have to be a lot more consistent game to game, and while everybody’s oooh and aah-ing at his arm strength, nobody’s noticing a completion percentage that’s much less wowing.

      • Macallanlover

        I agree with you that UGA should be ranked higher than Arkansas, I think we have a chance to be very good. It is illogical to ignore the inconsistencies, but the media seems to ignore logic and facts in favor of the hot story. It just doesn’t matter what they say. I repeat, I want them ranked higher than UGA, that is the best thing we can hope for. It would excuse a loss, or catapult us with a win. I think Florida could be more overrated than Arky, but thst is fine as well.

  4. Bryant Denny

    Arkansas = returning QB predicted to be All-American.

    Georgia and AU = new QBs.

    Having a returning QB is a big deal in the SEC, especially if you don’t have a strong defense.

    The same argument was indeed made for Snead last year and he wound up not playing well, but that doesn’t minimize the effect of having a returning starter at QB.

    Have a good day,

    BD

  5. The Realist

    Georgia’s defense was 38th in total defense last year, and everyone was so disgusted that 3/4 of the defensive staff was let go.

    Arky’s defense was 89th.

    To assume that Arky is going to make a significant improvement (up to 45-50ish) is a large leap of faith. If the stats held, they would have to give up 50 yards less per game to do that.

    To further beat a dead horse, Georgia’s defense could marginally regress and still be better than Arky’s amazingly improved defense.

    If you are going to try to outscore teams, you have to play flawlessly every week. If Mallett has an inconsistent week, then Arky stands a pretty good chance of losing… no matter the opponent. Most of the rational observations seem spot on. They can beat anybody any given week. They can be beaten any given week. They’ll probably win 8 games and go to a fairly decent bowl with one surprise win and one surprise loss.

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