QB Brandon Allen
After a 3-0 start, the Arkansas Razorbacks have dropped its last five games and is currently in free-fall mode.
Head coach Bret Bielema and his staff are in need of answers everywhere. The Hogs were humbled, 52-0, at Alabama two weeks ago and have had two weeks to prepare for a 7-1 Auburn Tigers team that is ranked No. 11 in the country and has been one of the biggest surprises in all of college football this season.
The Razorbacks have had a brutal schedule, and there aren't any gimmes remaining on the slate either. Arkansas can still salvage the season with some wins in the last four games, but that will be easier said than done.
Here are the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Hogs heading down the home stretch.
As bad as Arkansas has been, if it can make some strides in its remaining games, the 2013 season can end on a high note. The four games are split between home and road matchups. It starts Saturday in Fayetteville against Auburn.
The Hogs have a big test with a Tiger offense ranked 13th in the country. In this best-case scenario, the Razorback defense would finally come together and shut down quarterback Nick Marshall and the Auburn offense. Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen would also finally turn his season around and make plays with his arm to open up room for running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams.
With a win over Auburn, Arkansas' confidence would soar heading to Ole Miss the following week. The Rebels' rush defense, ranked No. 67 in the country, has been suspect, so with some efficiency from Allen and Arkansas passing game, Collins and Williams could have big games and keep a talented Ole Miss offense off the field.
After two-straight wins against SEC foes, the Hogs would welcome Mississippi State with a .500 record (5-5) and a chance at bowl eligibility.
The Bulldogs have a brutal stretch before coming to Arkansas, so the Hogs can catch them battered and bruised. Mississippi State's offense and defense has put up respectable numbers, but despite ranking in the top 50 nationally, the Bulldogs have been much worse against SEC teams. At home and on a two-game winning streak, the Razorbacks would handle Mississippi State at home before their last game on the road at LSU.
Even in a best-case scenario, Arkansas doesn't have the pieces or talent to beat the Tigers in Death Valley.
Though the Hogs would suffer a loss in the final game of the regular season, a 3-1 record down the stretch would make the team 6-6 overall and, more importantly, bowl eligible. After a dreadful five-game stretch, finishing with a .500 record and a bowl game would be a huge win for Coach Bielema and the Arkansas program.
Though finishing with a 6-6 record and becoming bowl eligible would be great, it doesn't seem very realistic with the way things have been going.
Auburn, on the other hand, has been resurrected under Gus Malzahn and is playing top-notch football right now. Home-field advantage usually plays a big part in games, but even that hasn't helped the Hogs as they got clobbered, 52-7, at home against South Carolina.
With a loss to the Tigers, Arkansas would continue its downward spiral.
Mississippi State could legitimately be the only real shot for the Razorbacks to pick up another win if it continues to play the way it has. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace could have a field day against the secondary if some adjustments aren't made.
With the Hogs unable to contain the Ole Miss offense and its own offense continuing to struggle in a loss, Arkansas would enter the Mississippi State game 3-7 and 0-6 in the SEC.
While the Bulldogs aren't playing great football either, they've been much more consistent than the Hogs. Arkansas has yet to show it can move the ball, let alone score points, against good defenses and Mississippi State's is 30th in the country.
A loss to the Bulldogs at home would all but assure a winless SEC season and a 3-8 mark on the year with the last game being at LSU.
As much as it hurts for a program that was on the rise just two years ago, finishing the season with zero wins in the conference is not unimaginable.
To avoid this worst-case scenario and at least get one conference win, Arkansas must get better play from Allen, the receivers and the defense as a whole. Otherwise, 2013 will be just as forgettable as 2012 was.
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