[title_box title=”Tennessee vs. Arkansas Preview”]
Co-written by Jake Nichols
Tennessee faces the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday in a battle of momentum. The Vols and Hogs are struggling early. A win for either in this game could build confidence moving forward. Head coaches Butch Jones and Bret Bielema are on the ‘hot seat’ according to some of their fans, so both need this win to regain respect in the SEC.
Arkansas started out with a bang, beating UTEP 48-13. The success ended quickly, however, as fans across the SEC gazed with grimace as the Razorbacks lost to Toledo at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. To put the Hogs behind even further, their second game in Fayetteville against the Texas Tech Red Raiders unraveled quickly. The Razorbacks then lost in overtime to Texas A&M, putting them at 1-3 thus far.
The Vols, on the other hand, have had a slightly better start to their 2015 campaign, at least in terms of the win-loss column. So far, Tennessee has beaten Bowling Green handily in Nashville, allowed a talented Oklahoma team to squeak out a last-minute win in Knoxville, blown out an inferior Western Carolina team and lost an 11th-straight game to the Florida Gators.
Both teams came close to winning this past weekend against ranked opponents, yet somehow still did not come close enough to walk away with victories.
The Vols and Hogs will both look to establish the pace of this game early. Each possesses an experienced offensive line with a capable go-to running back. Alex Collins has been phenomenal for the Razorbacks thus far, filling in for the injured Jonathan Williams. For Tennessee, Jalen Hurd has established himself as one of the nation’s most lethal power backs. One could argue also that the Vols and Hogs have two of the SEC’s most underrated quarterbacks in Brandon Allen and Josh Dobbs.
Defensively, Tennessee is probably a little more advanced at this point, though Arkansas did just hold a Kevin Sumlin-coached offense to 28 points in Arlington. The Arkansas offensive line vs. Tennessee’s front seven will be key in this game. Whichever unit can control the other will likely give their team a leg up.
Tennessee has dominated the series against the Hogs, winning 13 of the teams’ 17 matchups. While playing every year from 1992 to 2002, the Razorbacks and Vols have not met on the gridiron since 2011. Arkansas, then coached by Bobby Petrino, scored a 49-7 victory over the Derek Dooley-led Vols in Fayetteville. The Hogs have won only once in Knoxville, way back in 1992.
The series holds its weight in history with some pivotal contests over the years, including Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner’s “stumble and fumble” in 1998 and Darren McFadden’s career day in Fayetteville in 2006. This year’s game could prove to be just as exciting as both teams look to turn it around.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.
Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt