LITTLE ROCK — Despite being all too familiar with the modern-day proverb about the risk in using the word "assume," Arkansas being 4-4 going into November is chiseled in stone.
LITTLE ROCK — Despite being all too familiar with the modern-day proverb about the risk in using the word “assume,” Arkansas being 4-4 going into November is chiseled in stone.
Even a team that is winless in the SEC is supposed to be more talented than a team that is 2-2 in Conference USA and a victory over Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday puts the Razorbacks precisely where they were predicted to be in August. Admittedly, the preseason prognostication of 5-7 included a loss to Texas Tech and a victory over Texas A&M, but both game-week predictions were reversed because the Raiders didn’t appear capable of stopping Arkansas’ running game and the Aggies looked like they could throw on the Razorbacks.
The catch in getting to 5-7 is that the season-long forecast included a victory over one of the Mississippi schools. Of the four SEC opponents remaining on Arkansas’ schedule, No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 3 Ole Miss are 1 and 1A on the least likely to lose list.
For years, beating at least one of the schools from the Magnolia State was darned near a given for the Razorbacks. From the Danny Ford era through Bobby Petrino’s reign, only in 2008 did Arkansas lose to both schools. Both Ford and Petrino were 2-0 twice and Houston Nutt was 2-0 six times.
These Mississippi teams are different. If not a victory over the Bulldogs or the Rebels, Arkansas’ options are LSU and Missouri.
Weekly, the natural flow is to consume the latest scores and retool the impression of a particular team, but A&M 34-28 over Arkansas, Alabama 14-13 over Arkansas, and Alabama 59-0 over A&M is an example of the week-to-week disconnect.
Until the last two weeks, LSU appeared average, losing to Mississippi State and being dominated by Auburn. Since then, the Tigers somehow beat Florida and overpowered Kentucky, designated an up-and-comer.
Similarly, Missouri rebounded from a 34-0 loss to Georgia to defeat Florida by 29.
Raw scores do not tell the whole story. For instance, Georgia is more talented than Arkansas, but not 38-6 better in 30 minutes.
Relentless harassment of quarterback Brandon Allen in the first half was a big deal, but no more of a factor than two fumbles that produced touchdowns and a pass interception in the end zone with Arkansas at the Georgia 20. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs had no turnovers.
Missouri took advantage of six turnovers at Florida and Ole Miss benefited from four by Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley, including three interceptions.
The thing is, a team that gives the ball away four or five times one week does not necessarily repeat that disaster seven days later.
LSU, Missouri, and Ole Miss won conference games by a combined 117-19 during the weekend and Arkansas’ November opponents are 24-4.
Pondering those numbers in conjunction with Arkansas’ performance against Georgia, only Razorback fans with rose-colored glasses can see the SEC losing streak ending this year. Seeking something encouraging this week, fans should zero in on Ole Miss at LSU where either team can win by 10 or more.
That’s not the case in Columbia, Missouri, where Missouri is a 20-point favorite over Vanderbilt or Lexington, Kentucky, where MSU is favored by 14.
Vanderbilt, 0-4 in the SEC, has beaten only Massachusetts and Charleston Southern.
After a week of congrats about the first No. 1 ranking in school history, Mississippi State might start slowly, but quarterback Dak Prescott will make certain the Bulldogs prevail over Kentucky.
In Baton Rouge, Ole Miss is a slight favorite.
Very good against Alabama and Texas A&M, Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace completed less than 50 percent against Tennessee. I have even less confidence in LSU’s Anthony Jennings.
An Ole Miss victory would be the best-case scenario for Arkansas. If LSU followed up with a loss to Alabama on Nov. 8, the four-loss Tigers might have the blahs on Nov. 15 in Fayetteville.*
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: email@example.com.