The first week of the college football season is loaded with great games, but the game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Jacksonville State Gamecocks is flying under the radar. The Hogs host the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, and they are expected to win easily.
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. ET at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, and the Razorbacks will finally get back to football after an offseason of discontent.
The Razorbacks are ranked 10th in the country and their place in the polls should not be in jeopardy in this game.
The Gamecocks do deserve some respect headed into this matchup. They are defending Ohio Valley Conference champs and are led by former Arkansas coach Jack Crowe.
On offense, the Gamecocks have experience with quarterbacks Marques Ivory and Coty Blanchard leading an offense that knocked out 219.9 yards per game on the ground. Crowe has experience against quality football teams. Crowe and the Gamecocks stunned Ole Miss 49-48 in double-overtime to open the 2010 season and would love to repeat a similar feat this Saturday.
However, the problem with this team is on defense.
The Jacksonville State defense struggled last season allowing less than 400 yards per game (391.5) and 26.8 ppg and that is a big problem against the Razorbacks.
The Razorbacks will be eager to see running back Knile Davis in action after recovering from an injury. Davis demanded contact in practice and is a big piece of the Razorbacks offensive plans. If he can return to form, this offense will rank among the best in the country.
Tyler Wilson is a mainstay under center and this will give the potential Heisman candidate a good chance to show off a trio of pass-catching targets in Cobi Hamilton, Chris Gragg and Brandon Mitchell.
On defense, the Hogs will debut a new scheme led by defensive coordinator Paul Haynes. Haynes is hoping to make the defense as impressive as the Hog’s high-powered offense and an impressive outing against Jacksonville State would set the tone for the season.
The questions around the Razorbacks are associated with how they will react to the departure of former coach Bobby Petrino. The Hogs are eager to show the world that they are ready to challenge for the SEC title and it all starts in game one.
Final prediction: Arkansas 40 Jacksonville State 10
James Brown is a B/R featured columnist and can be followed on Twitter. Feel free to contact James at email@example.com. He also is a contributor at Bookie Blitz, a sports picks website and the official blog of the World
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