The Arkansas Razorbacks suffered a big blow when they lost running back Knile Davis to a season-ending ankle injury, but it didn’t seem to affect them too much in the polls.
Arkansas is ranked #15 in the AP preseason poll, which was released two weeks before season opening Saturday. It was released more than a week after Davis went down and two weeks after Arkansas grabbed #14 in the USA Today preseason poll. Despite the season ending injury to their biggest ground weapon, the ranking is Arkansas’ highest since 1990.
The Razorbacks are also ranked in the AP’s preseason poll in consecutive season for the first time since 1989-90.
2010 was: a banner year in school history; as the Razorbacks’ only regular season losses were to national champion Auburn and by a very narrow margin to defending national champion Alabama. They were #9 in the nation in total offense, #4 in passing, as Ryan Mallett led a very high octane attack. Of course, they lost to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, in a joke of game given the NCAA hypocrisy over shoulda-been-suspended Buckeyes.
BMOCs: RB Ronnie Wingo has to replace stud back Davis. As great as Davis is, it won’t be too much of a drop-off. Wingo is especially effective in between the tackles, and turned his game up another notch this past spring. There’s NFL talent on this team, and Mallett’s replacement, Tyler Wilson could be a first-rounder in 2013. WRs Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs (CHILD, PLEASE!) comprise the nation’s best core. On defense, keep an eye on DEs Tenarius Wright (awesome name BTW) and Jake Baquette, MLB Jerry Franklin
2011 will be fruitful if: the offense stays healthy, and the running game establishes itself early to take the pressure of the new starting QB. The run defense could be better than last season, it was just 71st overall last year. Dennis Johnson should help carry the load with Wingo.
2011 will be awful if: the questions at both cornerback spots and one linebacker position aren’t answered. Will Wilson acclimate quickly to his new starting position? Even with new starting OTs in front of him. The defense is strong, and could just as likely win games for them as the offense will. Of course,
Bottom Line: They should easily win 10 giving them another double digit victory season. But this year is about getting in the BcS, and winning their first conference title since 1989, when they were in the defunct SWC. They are a darkhorse candidate for a title game berth; of course it’s contingent on getting past LSU and Alabama first.
Ark Rankings: #16 Athlon, #10 Lindy’s, #14 USA Today, #15 AP, #8 Phil Steele
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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